I want to apologize for missing a post last month, but I assure you I have still been writing. If you don’t already follow me on Instagram, please do so, as most things the Lord puts on my heart are first planted there.
One thing that has been pressing on my heart lately is the “pre-tribulation/post-tribulation” debate that has creeped into the Church. For those who aren’t familiar with it, the “pre-trib/post-trib” debate includes opposing views on exactly when and how Jesus Christ is to return for His Bride.
- The pre-tribulation view argues that Christ will return for us at any minute and well before all of that stuff in the Book of Revelation. Pre-tribulation proponents don’t believe the Church will be here to see the mark of the beast or the revealing of the Antichrist.
- Post-tribulation proponents, on the other hand, believe Jesus Christ won’t come back for the Church until after set events occur, to include the implementation of the mark of the beast, the revealing of the Antichrist and widespread persecution of the Body of Christ. (Note: I am intentionally using “Body of Christ” here, as the post-trib position also argues that there will be a great falling away from the Church - many professed Christians will fall into apostasy or a lukewarm state.)
Certainly, some would just plant themselves some place in the middle of these two arguments. Others would say neither argument matters – after all, as long as we’ve accepted Jesus, we’re good.
But here’s the truth: It matters! And what you believe (or don’t) can have grave consequences.
While we receive salvation by grace through faith alone, Christ commands that we REMAIN IN HIM through His Word (John 8:31-32). And is it not true that "faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God" (Romans 10:17)? God's Word is the truth and the truth sets us free. If we don’t remain in His Word we are prone to backslide into the bondage of sin and death, and we are more susceptible to satan’s schemes.
And one of his best schemes yet has been to introduce to the church the concept of a pre-tribulation rapture.
If you hold to this false doctrine, you not only show that you have not studied God's Word as you ought, but you are in for a rude awakening and are most likely to fall away from the faith.
I've been guilty of this, so I'm not judging anyone. But I've come to learn that now isn't the time to be lax. The last days are upon us. So, to bring you up to speed, here are 5 things you need to know, and should begin to study, about Jesus’ return.
1) There is no secret *rapture.
Clearly the concept of a “secret rapture” comes from the Left Behind books (and subsequent film), but there is no support for it in the book Jesus left behind for us to study! When Paul says “in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye” he isn’t speaking of a random disappearance of the living, he speaks of what happens to the living and the dead in Christ at His return (1 Corinthians 15:52). On that day, deceased believers will be raised to their new glorified bodies, then living will receive theirs. And then, WE will all meet Christ in the air. And HE will be in the air because He will have returned for us. And His return will be in full power and glory – accentuated by the sounding of a trumpet, a shout, and extremely visible signs in the sky. It will be the worst kept secret known to man. ALL will see it and hear it.
Study: Matthew 24:29-31; Mark 13:24-27; 1 Corinthians 15:35-58; John 5:25, 6:29; Colossians 3:4
2) The Antichrist is going to “come for” the Church before Christ does.
Unless you pass away before the tribulation, you WILL be here for the mark of the beast and the revealing of the Antichrist. The Antichrist will endeavor to lead the whole world into deception (away from the Truth of God). In his effort, he will make war with the saints (the Church). His job will be to deceive as many as possible, even the very elect. If you believe Christ could come any day now, you’re more likely to run to and fro after the whims of the MANY false christs and false prophets in the satan’s arsenal. You might even find yourself worshipping the Antichrist when he finally comes on the scene.
Study: 2 Thessalonians 2:1-4; Revelation 13:7, 14:9-16
3) The rapture will occur on the Day of the Lord.
The day of the Lord includes His return AND His gathering His Church - these will not be separate events occurring on different dates. Again, all will see Jesus when He comes. And when He comes He will scoop us up and grant us our reward, then gather up the wicked and prepare them for God’s wrath.
Study: The Scriptures mentioned in points 1 and 2 above, as well as Matthew 16:27, 24:31; Mark 13:26, 14:62; 1 Thessalonians 4:16; Revelation 1:7
4) We MUST “watch and pray” to prepare for, and to endure until the end.
Jesus commands us to watch and pray to endure the tribulation period AND to prepare for His return. Pre-tribulation believers assume they are watching merely for Jesus to crack the sky. Not so. We are commanded to watch for various signs in the earth – current events, cosmic disturbances, the spread of iniquity and, of course, the schemes of the Antichrist – which signal the nearing end of satan’s rule and the coming of Christ’s Kingdom. Jesus will return like a “thief in the night” but, again, it doesn’t mean His return will be a secret. It means His return won’t overtake those of us who are on guard (1 Thessalonians 5:4). Watch for the signs Jesus listed and the schemes of the enemy. Pray for the strength to endure the enemy’s temptation and to be counted worthy to stand before Christ, our Lord.
Study: Matthew 26:41; Mark 13:30-36; Luke 21:34-36; 1 Thessalonians 5:1-8
5) We are gathered to Christ before the wrath of God.
Many count the tribulation and God’s wrath as the same event, which is probably why pre-tribulation proponents believe we will be long gone before the tribulation period. Indeed, the Body of Christ is not subject to God’s wrath (1 Thessalonians 5:9), which will be executed through the Seven Vials (Revelation 16). Yet, the Church is here for the Seven Seals, which are now taking place (Revelation chs. 6- 8), and we will STILL be here during the Seven Trumpets (the Great Tribulation, Revelation chs. 8 -11). The seventh trumpet signals Christ’s return, when all believers (alive and in the grave) receive our glorified bodies, and when we meet Christ in the air.
Study: Matthew 13:37-43, 13:47-49; Thessalonians 5:9-11, 5:16-17; 1 Corinthians 15:51-52; Revelation 11:15-19, 13:5-8;14:14-20)
I said all of this to say...
Honestly, I never even knew the “pre-trib/post-trib” discussion was a thing before this year. I knew Jesus said He was coming back, but I pretty much settled my faith right there.
Yet, as I continue to commit to studying God’s Word for myself, I’ve grown leaps and bounds in the Lord. We can certainly know Jesus is our Savior, the Son of God, and the Only way to God the Father. But, I realize our faith is something for which we have to contend if we wish to remain strong, confident and bold in the Lord. Jesus tells us plainly, “Behold, I am coming quickly! Hold fast to what you have, that no one may take your crown” (Revelation 3:11). From this I gather my crown is something that can be snatched away if I’m not guarding my heart with the Truth of God. I want my name to remain in the Book of Life, and I want the same for you (Psalm 69:28; Revelation 3:5, 20:12).
So, in humility and love, I strongly advise all believers to remain on their posts. Don’t get caught off guard because of fear, lack of faith/understanding or because you’re too focused on earthly cares. And if any of these issues presently trouble you, please pray for strength, understanding and rest. Our purpose, our destiny and our best life isn’t in this life – it’s in the Kingdom of God! Don’t sleep on the Lord’s promise!
And, by all means, certainly don’t even let your mega pastor and his/her fancy prosperity preaching or your Pope and his claims of “peace and unity” be your lullaby. (Yes…that was shade. But it was necessary.)
Did I miss anything? I welcome your doctrinally sound additions or general thoughts in the comments section below.
*“Rapture” does not appear in the Word of God, but most Christians understand this term to mean the gathering of the Body of Christ. Thus it was used herein for ease of communication.