Now, This month’s topic is pretty controversial, but please give me the courtesy to hear me out. I offer this message up in love and concern. I feel It’s time for me to weigh in on the concept of the Pre-Tribulation Rapture theory. I’m moved to do this, because so many normally good, solid and loving Christians are becoming nasty and militant about this doctrine. It is becoming so emotionally strong of a subject, it is beginning to distract believers from the real truth the Bible teaches. It is no longer simply a theological opinion, but has become something some people think a person could lose their salvation over if they do not believe in it! Here’s an example: I recently naively got sucked into a debate on YouTube with a Pre-Tribber. Over the course of about seven posts in which I maintained a very humble, Christian attitude (really), I was highly insulted and abused by them to the point where they actually called me a moron for my opinion. They argued that if I had not made up my mind or disagreed concerning the Pre-Trib Rapture, when it did come, I would not be raptured, only to be subject to becoming a martyr during the Great Tribulation!
Friends, don’t let anyone tell you this. Paul is very clear in 1st Thessallonians 4:16 – 18 that all true believers, asleep in the graves and those alive at His coming, shall be raptured. A true believer is one who has faith in the gospel –the death and resurrection of Christ for the forgiveness of sins and the promise of eternal life - and who tries to lead an obedient life of surrender and love to God, and others. There is no other condition written by the Apostle Paul (through the Holy Spirit) that the believer should meet to be “raptured”.
Now, if you will allow me to share my opinion of the time of the “rapture”. I’ve watched so many YouTube videos and read so many articles about when this event is to occur, I became more and more confused. Everyone seems to have an equally convincing argument (using scripture, sometimes the very same scripture!) to prove their point that it will occur pre, mid and post tribulation. I know Satan is the author of confusion. So, I was forced to go to the Bible and study it all for myself, and not just take the word of someone else.
Thus, this is my conclusion about when the rapture will occur: So many try and make this such a complex thing to figure out, when in reality, all one needs is a few passages in the scriptures. The first thing I needed to realize is that there are only two end-times resurrections. I’m going to make you work a little here. Read Daniel chapter 12, especially verses 1 and 2. These are speaking of a resurrection of the saints and a resurrection of the condemned. Two resurrections. Now, read Revelation 20:4 and 5. Once again, only two end-time resurrections are mentioned – the first resurrection of the saints (who were slain for the witness of Christ and those who did not worship the beast or take his mark).Read verse 5 carefully. It speaks of “the first resurrection”. This cannot refer, as it seems in that verse, to the resurrection of the dead who do not come to life until after the thousand year reign of Christ. So, the resurrection in Rev. 20:5 refers to the first resurrection of the saints who will “reign with Christ for a thousand years” in verse 4. Obviously, then, the second resurrection is of those who do not come to life until Christ’s thousand years are finished.
Still with me? There can be no other end-times resurrection before “the first resurrection”. We know the “rapture” involves the resurrection of those dead and those alive rising to meet Christ in the air. (I Thessallonians 4:16,17). So the only conclusion I can draw is that what some call the “rapture” is the first resurrection. Otherwise, the book of Revelation would have called the “first resurrection” of the saints “the second resurrection” of the saints. When revelation calls the resurrection of the saints “the first resurrection", it means the first resurrection. And, sorry pre-tribbers, when does the first resurrection (rapture) take place? Revelation 20:4 – after the tribulation of the mark of the beast takes place. However, I do believe God is going to spare His believers from the final destruction of the world when He comes to wage war on the nations “...with the sword of His tongue...” (Rev. 19:15) This “sword” will not be a physical sword, but rather the Sword of the Truth of the Gospel that will destroy all false doctrine of the beast system. There will be no true believers left on the earth at that time, because they will have known the Truth of the Gospel and been “raptured”. I believe this is what Jesus referred to when He told His disciples in Matthew 24:21, “And except those days shall be shortened, there should no flesh be saved. But for the elect’s sake, those days shall be shortened.” Don’t take my word for it. Study it yourself. Also note we also know from the I Thessalonians passage above that not all believers will be martyred, for it says, “...those of us who are still alive and remain...” (Greek = not just simply exist, but “survive”). Survive what? You’ve got it.
You may ask why it is so important for me to share this information with you. It is because I deeply feel there is a very real spiritual danger in investing all hope and faith in a Pre-Tribulation rapture. Look at the parable of the ten maidens. (Matthew 25:1-12) It was the duty of the maidens to light the path before the bridegroom and his procession and lead him to the house where the wedding feast was to take place. Note that the five foolish maidens only brought enough oil (faith) with them to last the amount of time they thought they knew the bridegroom was going to arrive. But the Bible says the bridegroom tarried. This Greek word means “purposely delayed”. So, what happened when he didn’t show up at the time they expected him to? They started running out of their oil to light his (and their) way.
This is exactly what I believe is going to happen to a lot of pre-tribbers. They’re so certain they know Christ is going to arrive before the Great Tribulation. But what if Christ tarries? What will happen to their faith in God’s supposed promise to whisk them off this earth before all the bad stuff hits the fan? Read 2nd Tessallonians 2:1-4. On, or just before the revealing of Antichrist, there will be a great falling away of the faith (Greek = apostasia; forsaking of the truth). Could one of the reasons for believers falling away from the faith be because they, like the foolish maidens, will only carry enough oil to last them until the time they thought the bridegroom was going to come? When Christ doesn’t show up, their faith will be greatly damaged. Not only that, but think about how desperately they will be looking for His coming at that time, and how much easier it will be for them to be fooled by the miracles and power of the Antichrist! (I Timothy 4:1) Note that in this parable, the foolish maidens regained enough faith to go back to the house and knock on the door. But what was the message they heard in response? “Verily I say, I know you not.” It was too late for them. The “faith” they had regained; the extra oil they had gone to buy, was out of fear of not making it inside the wedding feast where everything was splendid and joyful, and not a genuine desire to have a relationship with the bridegroom and being happy for and with him. Read Matthew 7:21-23. In the end, there will be those who have actually prophesied and done wondrous miracles in the name of Christ, but what does He say to them? “...I never knew you...” What He is saying is that more than all the miracles we can perform; all of the gifts of the Spirit we have, what He is really looking for is our hearts – a relationship with Him and to know who He really is and what He’s done for us. This comes through spiritual discernment, and this process of ever-increasing discernment is given to those who have lasting faith in God. What good are all the gifts He has given us if we use them with the wrong (self-involved) motivation?
Many pre-tribbers are believing in their doctrine for the wrong motivation. They are not concerned with the glory of God’s judgment and sovereign will. Their focus is not on magnificent day when God’s eternal plan will have come to its fulfillment. Their only concern is for God to rescue them from any suffering, or God forbid, martyrdom. This is a definite sign of lack of faith in God’s divine strength. Read 1st Corinthians 10:13. We are promised God will not test us beyond what we are able to bear. He knows better than we do just what we are able to bear. Not only that, but in that same verse, He promises us a way of escaping the burden. It’s called praying for divine strength. God appoints His martyrs, and if they accept their fate, He provides them with divine strength. For all we know, Stephen felt no pain while he was being stoned by the Jewish religious leaders. He may have died with a smile on his face! He was a man of great faith. I’m sure, he, like Peter, John and others considered it an honor to suffer for the sake of Christ. Apparently, there are Christians out there who have a real problem with that concept. After all Jesus did for them, they don’t want to face suffering for their Savior. What’s the worst thing that can happen if we die for the sake of Christ? We’ll be with Him!
My plea is, don’t be like the five foolish maidens. Be like the five wise ones who carried extra oil (faith) in case Christ does not return at the time you might expect Him to. This is why I have written the lyrics to “The Return Part One” to say:
It doesn’t matter if you think
the rapture is pre, mid or post.
Just keep the faith no matter what
‘til He returns with all His host.
After all I have said here, understand, I am not saying you should believe the way I do. I am stating my opinion to the best of my ability having done deep research and study on the subject. If you disagree with me, that’s perfectly fine. That is not going to affect in any way how God loves us or if we are or are not going to be “raptured” when that time comes. I love you just as much as a brother or sister in Christ no matter what you believe, as long as you have faith in the cross and the resurrection. Please, please, study the Bible for yourself. Don’t just believe me! Don’t just read it. If you have the tools, go to the original Hebrew and Greek to find out what the words you are reading in your modern translation really meant when they were originally written. Cross reference scripture to see if your theory has any holes in it. Pray to the Spirit of God to give you revelation. But also, keep an open mind. Be ready to accept and possibly change your attitude that you may have so dearly clung to in the past simply because you wanted to believe it. To be honest, God has really humbled me before concerning doctrine I was absolutely certain I was right about. In fact, I have changed my opinion about the rapture twice! I used to be a pre-tribber! But that is to be expected as we grow in Christ and learn more and more to depend upon His Spirit teaching us the truth of His Word rather than relying on our own human logic.
Finally, if you find yourself in a theological or philosophical disagreement with someone, be wise as a serpent but gentle as a dove with others who do not display that same agape love toward you! Through your continued patience with them, you may teach them a thing or two about God’s true love. Then pray to the Lord and ask Him when it is time to let it go, and leave it up to His Spirit to deal with the other person. Love you all, Dave
Below are some examples of computer-generated landscapes I’ve done. For larger, higher resolution images, view two albums of this and my photographic work by clicking on a link below and logging in to facebook. While you're there, why not let us be friends?
Landscapes of My Mind
The Second Earth
Also, check out my Vue Digital Nature page on this web site.