“But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him.
For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep.
For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so, shall we ever be with the Lord. Wherefore comfort one another with these words.” (1 Thessalonians 4: 13-18)
It ceases to amaze on the extent of anger that is triggered when talking to many Christians about the fact that there is a debate about the timing of the Rapture. That anger is present amongst the population that believes in the Pre-Tribulation Rapture theory as they want so badly for this doctrine to be true. This stance is so engrained in their theology that many are proclaiming that if you do not believe in the Pre-Tribulation Rapture, that you will be left behind on your non-belief alone.
This hardnosed stance makes the debate about the Rapture timing even more difficult as many would rather fight about their theology being correct vs trying to understand what the Scriptures actually states. Many a heated debate has ensued trying to explain that the Pre-Tribulation Rapture is only a theory and just like all theories, it may be incorrect.
The current stance of the Pre-Tribulation community is that there are two events that occur at the end of the age. The first is the coming of Jesus in the clouds to gather his Church and the second is when Jesus comes to Earth, after the wedding feast, and reigns on Earth for 1000 years.
The entire belief of the Pre-Tribulation Rapture is based on the assumption there are two events and not just one. That Jesus comes secretly for his believers and then comes publicly for the rest of mankind. The backers of this belief are left to proclaiming that the Church is not present within the Book of Revelation and that Jesus would not beat up his Bride prior to the wedding. Both of these are denying the fact that the Book of Revelation talks about the multitude killed for their testimony to Christ and that all mankind is guilty of sin, the punishment for sin is death and Christ can only marry a non-blemished bride. The corruptible must put on incorruption to gain entrance into Heaven and death is the pathway for man to do so.
Still the Pre-Tribulation community proclaims that the Rapture is what allows mankind to put on incorruption and make us ready for the wedding with our savior. This sounds wonderful but the one fact that they refuse to acknowledge is that the dead in Christ rise first, before the living are brought to the clouds.
The assumption is that these events happen at the same time and that is why the dead and living are together in heaven. This is not based in fact as the Scripture does not indicate that these events happen at the same time and instead leads us to assume they occur at different times. We can debate this point and get sidetracked but for all intensive purposes, lets assume that these events happen at the same time. Let us assume the dead and living rise at the exact same time, as their theory states.
With this assumption in place, we must investigate when the dead rise first. Many proclaim that this occurs at the last trump, but this would not allow for the Pre-Tribulation Rapture theory to be correct, so it causes complications:
“Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; neither doth corruption inherit incorruption.
Behold, I shew you a mystery; we shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.
For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. So, when this corruptible shall have put on incorruptions, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory.
O death, where is thy sting” O grave, where is thy victory? The sting of death is sin; and the strength of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.” (1 Corinthians 15: 50-57)
Most Pre-Tribulation Rapture believers use the passage in 1 Corinthians to show that the Rapture will occur and that it will happen in the twinkling of the eye, but they refuse to look at the rest of the passage or acknowledge that the verses state the change occurs at the last trump. Also, another interesting association is given to the destruction of Death and how it is swallowed up in victory at the same time. Many assume that this is just illustrating that once the Rapture occurs, that death no longer has power over mankind and that Jesus has won the war over him. This is correct, but the missing component is when does this occur? When does Death make an appearance during the End times and when is he conquered by Jesus? For the Pre-Tribulation Rapture theory to hold true, Death must appear prior to the Great Tribulation:
“And when he had opened the fourth seal, I heard the voice of the fourth beast say, Come and see. And I looked and behold a pale horse: and his name that sat on him was Death, and Hell followed with him. And power was given unto them over the fourth part of the earth, to kill with sword, and with hunger, and with death, and with the beasts of the earth.” (Revelation 6: 7-8)
This does not fit in line with the belief that the dead and living Christ believers will be risen prior to the beginning of the Great Tribulation. Many are proclaiming that Death has already been conquered and that we have redemption through Jesus Christ. We are taught that when Jesus died on the cross that he defeated Death at that time. If he defeated Death upon his resurrection, then how can Death ride as the fourth horseman of the Apocalypse? We can see that this teaching is false, and Death has a major role to play in the End Times.
The fact is that Death has not yet been defeated. This would mean that for the dead to rise, Death must be defeated first. Scripture must tell us as to when this would occur:
“Now if Christ be preached that he rose from the dead, how say some among you that there is no resurrection of the dead? But if there be no resurrection of the dead, then is Christ not risen: And if Christ be not risen, then is our preaching vain, and your faith is also vain.
Yea, and we are found false witnesses of God; because we have testified of God that he raised up Christ: whom he raised not up, if so be that the dead rise not.
For if the dead rise not, then is not Christ raised: And if Christ be not raised, your faith is vain; ye are yet in your sins. Then they also which are fallen asleep in Christ are perished.
If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable. But now is Christ risen from the dead and become the Firstfruits of them that slept. For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead.
For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive. But every man in his own order: Christ the Firstfruits; afterward they that are Christ’s at his coming. Then cometh the end, when he shall have delivered up the kingdom of God, even the Father; when he shall have put down all rule and all authority and power.
For he must reign, till he hath put all enemies under his feet. The last enemy that shall be destroyed is Death. For he hath put all things under his feet. But when he saith all things are put under him, it is manifest that he is excepted which did put all things under him.
And when all things shall be subdued unto him, then shall the Son also himself be subject unto him that put all things under him, that God may be all in all.” (1 Corinthians 15: 12-28)
We are told in great detail how the second coming of Christ will be in association to the resurrection. Scripture states that every man would rise according to his own order, first with Jesus himself as the first fruits, then those that are Christ’s at his coming and then God’s rule will be put down onto the Earth. After this all Christ’s enemies will be put under his feet with Death being the last enemy being defeated. This is confusing as we are not taught this at all. This teaching does not fit within the teaching that all the righteous of mankind will be gathered prior to his coming, unless they are those that are considered Christ’s at his coming. Again, we must look to Scriptures as to an explanation of who is this group:
“And I saw an angel come down from heaven, having the key to the bottomless pit and a great chain in his hand. And he laid hold on the dragon, that old serpent, which is the Devil, and Satan, and bound him a thousand years, And cast him into the bottomless pit, and shut him up, and set a seal upon him, that he should deceive the nations no more, till the thousand years should be fulfilled: and after that he must be loosed a little season.
And I saw thrones, and they sat upon them, and judgement was given unto them, and I saw the souls of them that were beheaded for the witness of Jesus, and for the word of God, and which had not worshipped the beast, neither his image, neither had received his mark upon their foreheads, or in their hands; and they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years.
But the rest of the dead lived not again until the thousand years were finished. This is the first resurrection. Blessed and holy is he that hath part in the first resurrection: on such the second death hath no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ and shall reign with him a thousand years.
And when the thousand years are expired, Satan shall be loosed out of his prison, and shall go out to deceive the nations which are in the four quarters of the earth, Gog and Magog, to gather them together to battle: the number of whom is as the sand of the sea.
And they went up on the breadth of the earth, and compassed the camp of the saints about, and the beloved city: and fire came down from God out of heaven and devoured them.
And the devil that deceived them was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are, and shall be tormented day and night for ever and ever.
And I saw a great white throne, and him that sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away; and there was found no place for them.
And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works.
And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works.
And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire.” (Revelation 20: 1-15)
Those that are considered Christ’s upon his return are those that had the testimony of Christ and who died during the Great Tribulation. This contradicts the Pre-Tribulation Rapture teaching as what Scripture actually states are completely different then what we are being told by the Pre-Tribulation community. Still many will proclaim that believers will be Raptured prior to the Second Coming and those believers will return with Christ when he comes. But when we look at Scripture, there is no indication that believers return with Christ, only the armies of heaven:
“And I saw heaven opened and behold a white horse; and he that sat upon him was Faithful and True, and in righteousness he doth judge and make war. His eyes were as a flame of fire, and on his head were many crowns; and he had a name written, that no man knew, but he himself. And he was clothed with a vesture dripped in blood: and his name is called The Word of God.
And the armies which were in heaven followed him upon white horses, clothed in fine linen, white and clean. And out of his mouth goeth a sharp sword, that with it he should smite the nations: and he shall rule them with a rod of iron: and he treadeth the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God. And he hath on his vesture and on his thigh a name written, King of Kings, and Lord of Lords.” (Revelation 19: 11-16)
Scripture is very clear that Jesus returns with the armies of heaven to wage war upon the earth. There is no indication that the saints will be within this multitude. But the stance that the saints will be gathered in heaven prior to the Great Tribulation is the most important fact within the Pre-Tribulation Rapture Doctrine. Without this there is no proof that there is a Rapture prior to the Tribulation. Many will still claim that the book of Jude shows that the saints will be returning in the clouds with Christ during this earthly raid:
“And Enoch also, the seventh from Adam, prophesied from these, saying, Behold, the Lord cometh with ten thousand of his saints,
To execute judgement upon all, and to convince all that are ungodly among them of all their ungodly deeds which they have ungodly committed, and of all their hard speeches which ungodly sinners have spoken against him.
These are murmurers, complainers, walking after their own lusts; and their mouth speaking great swelling words, having men’s persons in admiration because of advantage.” (Jude 1: 14-16)
It easy to use the first portion of this reference out of context and stop at the fact that the Lord will return with ten thousand of his saints, but when we continue reading, we find that this population is the same population spoken about during the first resurrection. These are those that will reign with Christ during the millennial reign.
There is no inclusion within Scripture about the secret Pre-Tribulation Rapture as most Church leaders are teaching. So many want to hear this good message and proclaim that this must be true as we are told to comfort each other with this message. When has the message of eternal salvation become overshadowed by the teaching of worldly tribulation escape? Wouldn’t the teaching of eternal salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ be the message that should comfort us instead of a mysterious teaching of the secret rapture?
Too many want to hear a message that illustrates their ability to escape the judgement that will come upon the earth instead of understanding that we are to be a beacon of hope during this trial. We are to show the world why our Lord must judge this wicked world and why he must put an end to sin forever. We must remember that this is not about our will or want. This is only about the will of our God and we must accept what he has told us he will do!
“After this manner therefore pray ye: Our Father which art in heaven, hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors. And lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil: for thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever. Amen.” (Matthew 6: 9-13)
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