by Pete Garcia
I think I stirred the pot with last week’s article. It probably didn’t help things that I dropped it into several non-pre-trib forums on Facebook. Talk about vitriolic rhetoric on a grandiose scale. At least confirmed my beliefs that all the other views, regardless of how much they differ from each other…will all line up against the Pre-Trib view lock-step. So what I’m about to write then might seem a bit controversial but…the Bible teaches both a Pre and Post-Tribulation coming of Christ
Chronologically speaking, Paul’s letter to the Thessalonians is one of the first, if not the first letter written to first century believers. In it Paul explains a revelation that had been directly given to him from Christ. (1 Thess. 4:15; Gal. 1:11-12) Paul shares that at a future point in time, Christ would return in mid-air and the dead in Christ would rise first then those who are alive are translated from mortal to immortal and go to be with Christ forever. On at least three separate occasions in his first epistle to the Thessalonians, Paul reiterates that we are not appointed to wrath but only those who have rejected Christ will be. (1 Thess 1:10, 2:15-16, 5:9) In fact, in all Paul’s epistles there is a consistent theme that when boiled down to the bare essentials state:
Deliverance will come before the coming wrath.
The dead would rise first in resurrected bodies, and the living would be transformed from mortal to immortal all in less time than a `blink of an eye’.
That we as believers, should take comfort in seeing the coming `Day of the Lord’.
Dr. David Reagan had this to say about it:
Finally, the day of the Lord occurs at the same time but is not exactly the same as the “day of the Lord Jesus.” This exact phrase is found two times in scripture (1 Corinthians 5:5; 2 Corinthians 1:14). This seems to refer to the time that Jesus comes for His own and matches with “the day of our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Corinthians 1:8) and the “day of Jesus Christ” (Philippians 1:6) and the “day of Christ” (Philippians 1:10; 2:16; 2 Thessalonians 2:2).
Six of these seven references point to the time that Jesus will come for the saints at the beginning of the tribulation. As a rule, these references refer to rejoicing and not wrath. The reason is simple. For although the inhabitants of earth will be experiencing the wrath of God, those taken from the earth at the beginning of the day of the Lord will be experiencing heaven. (Source)
I should probably add in Pre-Wrath and Mid-Tribulation believers as well in this group, because they tend to pull a majority of their end-times source documents from the Gospels, Revelation, and the Old Testament, but tend to down play what the Apostle Paul had to say in his epistles. These believers’ focus heavily on the Olivet Discourse chain of events, but in particular to Matthew 24: 29-31, and 36-44. The `Day of the Lord’ is viewed as after the Tribulation, but directly preceding the return of Christ at the Second Coming. Their view, in a nutshell is:
Christians will enter into the Tribulation because we don’t deserve to escape what’s coming.
Christians will have to endure to the end or at least to the end of the Sixth Seal Judgment (for Pre-Wrath), in order to be Raptured.
Now, when Post-Tribulation believers do reference Paul’s epistles, it’s almost exclusively centered on 2 Thessalonians 2…and they make a fine mess of it. One would have to do all sorts of mental gymnastics to really grasp what Paul was saying. If in fact, he was promoting a Post-Tribulation Rapture from their explanation of it…despite the fact that Paul wrote 2 Thessalonians in an effort to refute the notion that the Thessalonians were taught by a false teacher pretending to be Paul, they were in the `Day of Christ’ already.
If you believe the Rapture is Post-Trib, then you by default, have to pull heavily from the Olivet Discourse, the Old Testament and anything beyond Revelation 4.
Like I said, the Bible teaches both views; which one applies, also depends on who you are.
For the unbeliever, Paul wasn’t speaking to you. Therefore, the Pre-Tribulation Rapture will happen and leave you here on terra firma to enter into the worse period of time mankind has ever faced. (Matt. 24:21-22) From your perspective, Matthew 24, Mark 13, Luke 21, and Revelation 6-18 then become very applicable to your situation. If you remain until the end, and still have not converted, your rapture is not being caught up, but being caught away, into eternal damnation. (Matt. 13:37-43)
For the believer in this waning age of the Church, we who are alive and remain will one day, be surprised and/or relieved to finally hear that Trumpet call, and the Shout and will know, that we are about to go to be with our Lord and Savior in glory.
Since we are in the Church age, and have been since that first Pentecost when the Holy Spirit descended down as `cloven tongues of fire’, (Acts 2:1-4) what Paul had to say, is of the utmost importance. Paul was given what we would call, Progressive Revelation. In that he was given new information that had not yet been revealed to anyone else…even the other apostles (Gal. 1:1-2, 11-12).
This revelation is not Plan B, or some emergency action on God’s behalf, but had been in God’s mind and purpose from before even the foundation of the world. (Eph. 1:3-6) His Gospel message, as found in 1 Cor. 15:1-5, his plans of salvation (Rom 10:9-11), and his revealing of exactly what happens to the believer at the moment of salvation (Eph. 1:11-14), were not only shocking but different than what even the Apostle Peter knew at the time of the Pentecost when he was preaching to the crowd of Jewish men. (Acts 2:38-39) Another way to think about it is like this. Progressive revelation is why the Bible was written by 40 different men spanning over 1,600 years.
God didn’t reveal everything to Adam. . . although He could have.
This is also why both views (Pre and Post) have such strong feelings about why they view their position to be correct. Both views can quote scripture with the best of them. Both can argue passionately about why they think their position is right. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again…only one view is going to actually happen.
So which one will happen for the believer? Are we destined to go through all or part of the time known as Daniel’s 70th Week?
Seeing as the Apostle Paul was given the ministry to the Gentiles (Romans 11:13; Gal. 2:7), and most of modern Christendom is or came out of the Gentile nations, it would appear he would be speaking to us. And really, in this dispensation, once a person becomes a Christian, he/she is neither Jew nor Gentile anymore IN Christ, (1 Cor. 10:32; 2 Cor. 5:17; Gal. 6:15) but have become a `new creation’. Just as we were born as sons and daughters of the first Adam, in Christ, we become adoptive sons and daughters in the Last Adam. (1 Cor. 15:45) In other words, we become a whole new race in Christ.
Now, it should be noted, that the Gospels were written as record of Christ’s birth, life, ministry, and death…all of which occurred under the age of the Law. (Gal. 4:4-5). It wasn’t until the moment of His death, that the temple veil was torn in two, signifying that the Holy of Holies was no longer exclusively just to the Jewish Priests, but to everyone. (Matt. 27:50-53)
When you read through the Synoptic Gospels (Matthew, Mark, and Luke), you will find a version of Jesus’s Olivet Discourse. In each of these, there are plenty of clues that should tell you, that what He’s saying, doesn’t apply to the Church (Matt. 24:15, 20-21) because the Church is not under Sabbath travel restrictions. Neither are we exclusively in Judaea, nor do we preach the `gospel of the kingdom’. We preach Christ crucified, Christ is our Sabbath, and we are from all over the world. Furthermore, the Post-Tribulation nature of Matthew 24, ties directly into the preceding chapter, in which Jesus issued his final warning shot to those who had rejected His message and offer of the Kingdom;
“O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the one who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing! See! Your house is left to you desolate; for I say to you, you shall see Me no more till you say, `Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!’ ” Matthew 23:37-39
We know according to Scripture, that it’s not until the end of the Tribulation that the Jewish people (those who remain) will cry out and finally recognize Jesus as their Messiah.
“And I will pour on the house of David and on the inhabitants of Jerusalem the Spirit of grace and supplication; then they will look on Me whom they pierced. Yes, they will mourn for Him as one mourns for his only son, and grieve for Him as one grieves for a firstborn. Zechariah 12:10
The Gospel of John on the other hand, has no Olivet Discourse, but rather, has the Upper Room Discourse. This would be where Christ reveals to His disciples (minus Judas Iscariot), some `precious promises’ that ONLY applied to the believer.
“Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me. In My Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And 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
But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you. John 14:26
No longer do I call you servants, for a servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all things that I heard from My Father I have made known to you. John 15:15
Nevertheless I tell you the truth. It is to your advantage that I go away; for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you; but if I depart, I will send Him to you. And when He has come, He will convict the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment: John 16:7-8
The Upper Room Discourse, is very different in both the nature of the discussion and the intimacy with which it is entrusted to His disciples. Even the timing of John’s Gospel (the last written) was well into the early church age, written somewhere around AD85. Then there is the Revelation of Jesus Christ, which is the last book written.
Interestingly, John is told what to write and even how to break up the book (Rev. 1:19), and in so doing, he records 19 times, the use of the term `ekklesia’ which gets translated as `church’ or `churches’ in our English translation of the Bible. But 18 of the 19 references, are all used in Chapters 1-3, and 22. The last use of `ekklesia’ in chapter 22, is only used in which John is instructed to give this message out to all the `ekklesia’. But the term for church is used nowhere in context with anything that happens between chapter’s 4-21.
Instead, terms such as `elect’ and `saints’ are used to refer to those believers who are enduring the wrath that is being poured out upon it. These people are not in the Church, because the Church is already gone. That age/time/dispensation is already concluded at the `catching up’ of the Church. The exclusivity of the use of the word `ekklesia’ is now replaced with the use of more generic terms such as `elect’ and `saints’, which can also be found in the Olivet Discourses and the Old Testament. The word `elect’ is used in conjunction with the nation of Israel corporately (Isaiah 42:1, 45:4, 65:9, 65:22) and `saints’ individually (Psalm 37:28; Daniel 7:25; Rev. 13:7).
In coming to terms with the prophetic juxtaposition of the Bible, which teaches both Pre and Post Tribulation positions, I have become fully convinced, that those who hold to any other view than a Pre-Tribulation view are not any less Christian than those who don’t. They just remained confused as to who they are in Christ and what the timing and the purpose is of the Tribulation.
In short, the Tribulation is the same period of time, which is also known as Daniel’s 70th Week, the Time of Jacob’s Trouble, and the time of the Seal, Trumpet, and Bowl Judgments.
Just as the Jewish believers in Jesus day (and before) were expecting only one coming of their Messiah (as another Moses or David), and were caught asleep at the wheel; so too will those fail to distinguish between Christ’s coming FOR His church at the Rapture, and His coming WITH His Church at the Second Coming. (Zech. 14:5; Jude 1:14; Rev. 19:7-8, 14).
Seeing as there will not be unity in belief on this subject until the Lord actually returns, there will remain a biased understanding for those who seemingly trade in their `Blessed Hope’ for that `Woeful Anticipation’ of what is to come upon the earth. The great Bible teacher Jack Kelley once said, “I wish people got Raptured according to their view of it”…and in all fairness, I couldn’t agree more.