Some people will ask why is it so important to decide one way or the other or even study this part of the bible concerning the End of Days (“End Times” is not a biblical term but has become widely used). The answer is that Christians will need to be prepared to go through a total of 7 years of tribulation (Actually it is only the last 3.5 years that will have the judgements meted out, but Christians will be treated badly in the first 3.5 years) and must be able to give answers to anyone who does not know Jesus as their Lord and Saviour. There will be fear, anarchy and some Christians will be martyred so we must understand the book of the Revelation of Jesus Christ and what takes place over the 7 years. What will you do if someone says we will take away your daughter or son if you do not take the sign of the beast? We will have special Godly protection when appropriate however many Christians will be martyred by the Antichrist. God’s wrath is not aimed at His sons and daughters. I.e. The Body of Christ, however many might die in the disasters. The pre-tribulation teaching removes the need to understand the Book of Revelations and what Jesus is coming back to do, to a secondary intellectual exercise.
If we understand what happens during the 7 years of the tribulation I can bet my bottom dollar that all Christians will pray seriously for their relatives, friends and the rest of the world.
The post-tribulation view of the rapture prefigures the presence of the church in the tribulation, which has been the source of much debate.
The goal of this message will be to address the arguments involved in this debate.
Dealing with Pre-Tribulation Arguments
I am going to address the pre-tribulation position because it is the most popular view in opposition of the post-tribulation view of the rapture. However, it is important to know that the arguments I address deal fundamentally with pre-tribulation and pre-wrath views of the rapture.
The strength of the pre-tribulation rapture view is not any one particular argument, but rather the sheer number of arguments. There’s no one scripture that can be pointed to, to establish the pre-tribulation position exegetically, but rather a vast number of inferred passages.
“One of the problems that face… the pre-tribulation stance …is the fact that [our] point of view is an induction based on scriptural facts rather than an explicit statement of the bible.” (The Rapture Question; pg. 181)
The online debates I engage in usually begin with me providing an exegetical presentation of the post-tribulation view. Then my opponents begin a series of “what about” until all of their arguments have been exhausted (with me providing a biblical response to deconstruct each one). Then they typically just disappear. This reveals a couple things to me:
How a person’s view of the rapture is so deeply knit to sentiment based on upbringing, background, emotions, or preconceived suppositions and perceptions.
How unwilling people are to allow the plain sense meaning of scripture to form their views, especially when it does not agree with their life vision of comfort and ease.
I have had one recent success in winning a debate, however. My dad has been a pre-tribulation guy for over 40 years, until this year!
Methods of Interpretation
Addressing the issue of the rapture really becomes an issue of hermeneutics. What method of biblical interpretation do you apply to build your conclusions? There are three main categories of biblical interpretation:
Inductive vs. Deductive –
Inductive – Bases beliefs on the plain sense meaning of Scripture.
Deductive – The deductive method of interpretation is based on human logic and it bases doctrine and belief on deductions from Scripture, inferences, and implications. What follows are conclusions based on human reason and applied to Scripture. It gives place to reason rather than revelation.
Exegetical vs. Eisegetical –
Exegetical – Means to bring out of Scripture what is in there.
Eisegetical – Reading into Scripture what is not there.
Contextual vs. Proof-texting –
Contextual – Interpreting a bible verse in context to its passage and the overall teaching of scripture.
Proof-texting – Citing a Bible verse to prove a position that is not taught in scripture.
The pre-tribulation method of interpretation – The pre-tribulation view of the rapture is built, foundationally, on an exegetical method of interpretation, using proof-texting and deductive reasoning. Each argument contains the following criteria:
Every single argument is an argument from silence. The gist of it is, “Here is what we believe, now prove us wrong.” The Bible is no longer quoted to prove a doctrinal thesis, but the absence of a quote is used to prove a doctrinal antithesis.
Here is an example of Walvoord’s position on arguments from silence:
“The fact that Old Testament saints and tribulation saints are resurrected after the Tribulation according to explicit scriptures (Daniel12:1-2; Revelation 20:4) raises the question why neither the translation nor the resurrection of the church is mentioned in this event. While silence is not explicit, it is nevertheless eloquent in this case. (The Rapture Question; pg. 171)”
Here are a couple examples:
Example #1: the “phantom rapture” of Revelation 4:1
After these things I looked, and behold, a door standing open in heaven. And the first voice which I heard was like a trumpet speaking with me, saying, “Come up here, and I will show you things which must take place after this.” 2 Immediately I was in the Spirit; and behold, a throne set in heaven, and One sat on the throne. – Revelation 4:1-2
This is taught to be symbolic of the church being raptured before the tribulation. Nothing in the text says this. We must imply that is what is being said. That is called an argument from silence. What follows is a comment like, “there is nothing that says this isn’t the rapture.”
Example #2: Walvoord writes: “Never are tribulation saints referred to as a church, or as the body of Christ, or as indwelt by Christ, or as subject to translation, or as a bride… Pre-tribulationists concede and uniformly teach that there will be elect, that is, saved people, in the tribulation time. This fact does not in the slightest prove that these mentioned in this way belong to the church, the body of Christ.”
First of all, notice how Walvoord creates a separate group of believers, “tribulation saints” and then forces the burden of proof on post-tribulationists to prove how they must fit into the Church. To force a text dealing with the Great Tribulation to prove a theory about a separate group of believers wrong is preposterous.
Not a single argument is linked to an explicit teaching of Scripture.
Every argument is in violation of the clear, plain-sense meaning of Scripture.
The accepted method of biblical interpretation should be historical grammatical.
History of the Pre-Tribulation Rapture View
Nobody ever came to a pre-tribulation rapture view from purely reading the Bible.
Historically, the pre-tribulation position was derived from a system of theology known as dispensationalism, in approximately 1825 by Edward Irving, father of the Apostolic Catholic Church, circa 1825 (later accused as a heretic because of his low view of Christ). It was later promoted by John Nelson Darby, one of the founding fathers of the Plymouth Brethren Church in Great Britain, circa 1830.
“It may be conceded that the advanced and detailed theology of pre-tribulationism of today is not found in the early church fathers, and there are some grounds for tracing this to Darby, who seemed to be the first to make this sharp distinction.” (The Rapture Question; pg. 50)
Early controversy over this view – The Plymouth Brethren church was eventually divided, in part, over this issue. One of the churches founding fathers, Dr. Samuel P. Tregelles, a renowned conservative Greek scholar of the nineteenth century denounced the pre-tribulation rapture position as being sentimental and emotional without a thread of biblical support. He stated that the pre-tribulation “doctrine of the coming of Christ [is] not taught in the Word of God…This whole system stands in distinct contradiction of what the scripture reveals.” (The Hope of Christ’s Second Coming; pg. 32)
Another prominent leader in the Plymouth Brethren church, B.W. Newton, condemned this new view of the rapture as “the height of speculative nonsense” (H.A. Ironside).
Why did it become so popular?
Eventually the view was picked up by Dr. C.I. Scofield during one of his visits to England. It was later taught in his church in Dallas, was popularised by his Scofield Study Bible in the early twentieth century and became the exclusive position of Dallas Theological Seminary and the primary view taught at Moody Bible Institute for the better part of this century.
Jesus Prefigures the Presence of the Church in the Tribulation
When Jesus describes the Great Tribulation in Matthew 24 he address his disciples in the second person plural: “I have told you…when you see…see that no one deceives you.”
“What About” #1: The Absence of the Word Ecclesia from Revelation 4-19
Pre-tribulation argument – Revelation 4-19 describes what is happening on earth during the tribulation. The absence of the term ecclesia (translated church in English, or literally gathering of believers) from chapters 4 through 19 means the Church must not be here. Therefore, the Church has been raptured before the tribulation.
Revelation 4-19 describes both events in heaven and on earth. If the Church cannot be on the earth during the tribulation period because the term is never used in those chapters, then likewise, the Church cannot be in heaven, either! Where is the church?
Terms used synonymously with the Church, such as “elect”, “saints”, “the righteous”, “believers”, etc… are found in this tribulation passage. Saints throughout the NT are considered members of the Church.
“If these believers in the Tribulation are properly described as members of the church, it leads inevitably to the conclusion that the church will go through the Tribulation (The Rapture Question; pg. 19-20).”
“If the term church includes saints of all ages, then it is self-evident that the church will go through the Tribulation, as all agree that there will be saints in this time of trouble (The Rapture Question; pg. 21)”
“What About” #2: The Removal of the Restrainer
Now, brethren, concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ (the Second Coming) and our gathering together to Him (the rapture), we ask you, 2 not to be soon shaken in mind or troubled, either by spirit or by word or by letter, as if from us, as though the day of Christ had come. 3 Let no one deceive you by any means; for that Day will not come unless the falling away comes first (apostasy), and the man of sin is revealed (the Antichrist), the son of perdition, 4 who opposes and exalts himself above all that is called God or that is worshipped, so that he sits as God in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God. 5 Do you not remember that when I was still with you I told you these things? 6 And now you know what is restraining, that he may be revealed in his own time. 7 For the mystery of lawlessness is already at work; only he who now restrains will do so until he is taken out of the way. 8 And then the lawless one will be revealed whom the Lord will consume with the breath of His mouth and destroy with the brightness of His coming. 9 The coming of the lawless one is according to the working of Satan, with all power, signs, and lying wonders. – 2 Thessalonians 2:1-9
Pre-tribulation argument – This passage of Scripture refers to a time when the Holy Spirit will be taken from the earth – to heaven – and therefore must be taking the church with Him.
Scriptural perspective – This, like every other pre-tribulation viewpoint, is an argument from silence. The problem is that you cannot assume what you are trying to prove. In this passage, you have to assume many things to conclude what the pre-tribulation position is trying to prove.
First, you must assume that “he” is the Holy Spirit. There is nothing in the text that says this. The word used for “what” is in the neuter gender, while the word used for “he” is in the masculine (singular) gender. Therefore, the Restrainer is both an “it” and a “he”. It is highly unlikely that the Apostle Paul would refer to the Holy Spirit as an “it”.
Secondly, one must assume that “it/he” is taken from the earth. Again, there is nothing in the text to suggest this. All that is said is that “it/he” is taken “out of the way”.
And third, it must be assumed that “it/he” is taking the Church with “it/him” to heaven. Pre-tribulationists see this as the rapture before the tribulation. Interestingly, this assumption is taken from a text that explicitly says the Church will not be raptured until after the Antichrist is revealed, and the falling away occurs – This is an impossible scenario in a pre-tribulation rapture. Here is what John Walvoord had to say about this passage, “The matter is complicated.” (The Rapture Question; pg. 237)
Implications of the pre-tribulation view –
All pre-millennialists agree that there are “saints” present on earth during the tribulation. In a pre-tribulation rapture scenario I am meant to believe that a “multitude” of people, “without number” (Rev. 7:9) are saved in the most trying time on planet earth – without the Holy Spirit. The Church has not fostered these kinds of results with the Holy Spirit in the last two thousand years. This scenario is not only – not taught by the text – but is an improbable conclusion beyond reconciliation.
The presence of saints upon the earth presents another problem. As believers in Christ we are promised the indwelling of the Holy Spirit as the guarantee of our redemption.
But you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. Now if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he is not His. – Romans 8:9
In a pre-tribulation viewpoint, there can be no indwelling of the Spirit after the rapture. So what happens to all of the promises concerning the indwelling of the spirit to believers in the tribulation? Is this promise now void? If so, where is this important doctrine taught in the NT? Where does it say that there is a separate group of believers who do not receive the indwelling of the Holy Spirit? On the contrary the Apostle Paul makes it clear that it is impossible to be a believer in Christ and not have the indwelling of the Holy Spirit (Romans 8:9).
Describing the time of tribulation, Jesus gave clear indication of the presence of the spirit.
“But when they arrest [you] and deliver you up, do not worry beforehand, or premeditate what you will speak. But whatever is given you in that hour, speak that; for it is not you who speak, but the Holy Spirit.” – Mark 13:11
“What About” #3: Christians Are Not “Appointed Unto to Wrath”
For God did not appoint us to wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ… – 1 Thessalonians 5:9
Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him. – Rom. 5:9
Pre-tribulation argument – This current age is an age of grace. The tribulation is an age of wrath. Christians are not appointed unto wrath; therefore, we must be raptured before the tribulation begins.
John Walvoord clarified this position: “The only way one could be kept from that day of wrath would be to be delivered beforehand.”
Scriptural perspective on the age of grace vs. the age of wrath –
Romans chapter one indicates that this present age is not only characterised by “grace”, but that God’s “wrath” is already being manifested in the earth (Romans 1:18-32).
For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness. – Rom. 1:18
If the presence of God’s wrath on earth necessitates a rapture of the church, then we would have already been raptured. The difference between the wrath of God that is manifest now vs. tribulation is a difference of degree not kind.
The tribulation is a time of abundant grace. Evidences of this grace can be seen in the fact that the gospel will continue to go forth during the tribulation. Jesus indicated that His followers would preach the gospel until the “end of the age” (Matt. 24:14; 28:17-20), Revelation speaks of two prophetic “witnesses” who operate in supernatural power (Rev. 11:1-14), and God actually sends forth an angel to preach the gospel to the nations (Rev. 14:6-7). We are told in Revelation 7:9 that “a great multitude which no one could number, of all nations, tribes, peoples, and tongues” will be redeemed out of the great tribulation.
In conclusion, the Bible teaches that the current age we are living in is characterised by wrath, and it is also characterised by grace. The Bible teaches that the tribulation will be characterised by wrath, and it will also be characterised by grace.
Scriptural perspective on God’s methodology of delivering Christians from God’s wrath –
The Bible never teaches that the rapture is God’s method of delivering believers from His wrath.
The Bible teaches that the wrath of God is directed towards the wicked, not believers (Rev. 14:9-11; Ephesians 5:6).
Because of these things the wrath of God is coming upon the sons of disobedience. – Eph. 5:6
The Bible teaches that deliverance from God’s wrath is always through protection or redirection – never by being raptured.
Protection – There are many examples of God protecting His people in the midst of judgement. Examples: In Rev. 7:3-4 144,000 are sealed (and consequently protected from the wrath of God), the people of God in Goshen during the plagues of Egypt, Rahab in the midst of the downfall of Jericho, and Noah and his family in the ark during the midst of the flood.
Come, my people, enter your chambers, and shut your doors behind you; hide yourself, as it were, for a little moment, until the indignation is past. 21 For behold, the Lord comes out of His place to punish the inhabitants of the earth for their iniquity; the earth will also disclose her blood… – Isa 26:20-21
Then I saw another angel ascending from the east, having the seal of the living God. And he cried with a loud voice to the four angels to whom it was granted to harm the earth and the sea, 3 saying, “Do not harm the earth, the sea, or the trees till we have sealed the servants of our God on their foreheads. – Rev. 7:2-3
And in that day I will set apart the land of Goshen, in which My people dwell, that no swarms of flies shall be there, in order that you may know that I am the Lord in the midst of the land. 23 I will make a difference between My people and your people… – Ex. 8:23
Now the city shall be doomed by the Lord to destruction, it and all who are in it. Only Rahab the harlot shall live, she and all who are with her in the house…. – Josh. 6:17
Redirection – God directs His people away from coming judgment (Rev. 12; 18:4).
When the morning dawned, the angels urged Lot to hurry, saying, “Arise, take your wife and your two daughters who are here, lest you be consumed in the punishment of the city.” 16 And while he lingered, the men took hold of his hand, his wife’s hand, and the hands of his two daughters, the Lord being merciful to him, and they brought him out and set him outside the city. – Gen 19:15-16
And I heard another voice from heaven saying, “Come out of her, my people, lest you share in her sins, and lest you receive of her plagues. – Rev. 18:4
Then the woman fled into the wilderness, where she has a place prepared by God, that they should feed her there one thousand two hundred and sixty days…14 But the woman was given two wings of a great eagle, that she might fly into the wilderness to her place, where she is nourished for a time and times and half a time, from the presence of the serpent. – Rev. 12:6, 14
There are several examples from the OT that pre-tribulationists use as illustrations to prove that the Church must be raptured before the tribulation begins. These examples include: Lot at Sodom, Rahab at Jericho, Moses from Egypt, Noah from the flood, and Daniel from the fiery furnace. The one thing that all of these examples have in common is that the saints were never raptured to heaven to protect them or deliver them from God’s wrath.
“What About” #4: Kept from the Hour of Trial (Rev. 3:10)
Because you have kept My command to persevere, I also will keep you from the hour of trial which shall come upon the whole world, to test those who dwell on the earth. – Rev. 3:10
Pre-tribulation argument – If we are faithful to God He will rapture us before the tribulation begins.
Scriptural perspective – We must apply the historical-grammatical method of interpretation to understand what the intended meaning of this verse is.
Historical Context – The letters to the seven churches were written to real churches to address real issues in seven different geographic regions throughout the Roman Empire in the first century. What was Jesus’ intended meaning to the church of Philadelphia, to whom this letter was written 2000 years ago? First, it is significant to understand that this verse has absolutely nothing to do with the great tribulation. The “hour of trial which shall come upon the whole world” was a clear reference to the impending danger to the church in Philadelphia of the imperial persecutions that spread through the Roman Empire in the second and third centuries, “testing” the known “world” at that time. Today the church of Philadelphia no longer exists, so there can be no fulfilment of this prophecy if it is related to the great tribulation and would have been meaningless in its original communication to the Church of Philadelphia. Furthermore, there is nothing said of a “secret rapture”, but that God would protect his people during trial, which is exactly what He did with the Church of Philadelphia.
Grammatical – There are several key words in Rev. 3:10 that are important to understand in order to fully develop the meaning of this verse. Looking at the original language of Greek is the most insightful way to unlock these words.
Because you have kept My command to persevere, I also will keep (tereo) you from (ek) the hour of trial which shall come upon the whole world, to test (peirasmos) those who dwell on the earth. – Rev. 3:10
The Greek word for “keep” is “tereo,” which means “to guard, watch over, or keep.” “Tereo” carries the idea of protecting someone while he is within a sphere of danger, not that of keeping him away from the danger altogether. Only those who are within a specific sphere of danger need to be watched over or guarded.
“From” is translated from a Greek preposition, “ek,” which means to “come out of the midst of something.” The Greek preposition “apo,” means to be kept out of or away from. Had Jesus meant that those who fulfill His exhortation to persevere would be kept outside of the hour of testing, the Greek preposition “apo” would have been used.
Tereo ek, used in conjunction, can only refer to guarding or protecting those who persevere while they are within the sphere of danger, and then bringing them safely out from the midst of that danger. Thus, the meaning of the text is clear. Tereo ek should be translated, “a watchful protection within the sphere of danger, with a safe deliverance out from the midst of it.” This perfectly describes a post-tribulation rapture scenario.
Consider how “ek” is used in an end-times context. John is told that the great multitude standing before the throne of God “are the ones who come out of (ek) the great tribulation” (Rev. 7:14b). This great multitude of believers is not spared the tribulation, but is delivered “out from the midst of” it, once again picturing exactly what the Greek text intended in Rev. 3:10 (having the same context, the same Greek preposition, exactly the same meaning).
The same combination of tereo and ek is used in John 17:15. “I do not ask thee to take them out of the world, but “to keep them from (tereo and ek) the evil one.”
The Greek word translated “testing” is peirasmos, which comes from the root, peira. The Greek word for tempted in James 1:13 is peirazo, which also comes from the root peira.
Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am tempted (peirazo) by God”; for God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does He Himself tempt anyone. – James 1:13
Also consider the use of peirazo in 1 Thes. 3:5; 1 Cor. 7:5; and Matt. 4:1. Each one of these verses have the same thing in common – peirazo is never used to describe the wrath of God. In each case peirazo describes the “testing” that comes from Satan.
For this reason, when I could no longer endure it, I sent to know your faith, lest by some means the tempter had tempted (peirazo) you, and our labors might be in vain. – 1 Thess. 3:5
Do not deprive one another except with consent for a time, that you may give yourselves to fasting and prayer; and come together again so that Satan does not tempt (peirazo) you because of your lack of self-control. – 1 Cor. 7:5
Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted (peirazo) by the devil. – Matt. 4:1
Jesus told Peter that Satan had asked to sift him like wheat. Then Jesus said that He prayed for Peter that his faith would not fail. I believe Revelation 3:10 presents a similar context. The Church of Philadelphia was going to experience a time of “testing.” Jesus encouraged them that if they remained faithful he would “keep” them through the midst of the testing, and then deliver them out of it. This was a historically accurate scenario concerning the Church of Philadelphia’s preservation during the Imperial Roman persecutions.
“What About” #5: Praying to Escape
“But take heed to yourselves, lest your hearts be weighed down with carousing, drunkenness, and cares of this life, and that Day come on you unexpectedly. 35 For it will come as a snare on all those who dwell on the face of the whole earth. 36 Watch therefore, and pray always that you may be counted worthy to escape all these things that will come to pass, and to stand before the Son of Man.” – Luke 21:34-36
Pre-tribulation argument – Pre-tribulationists contend that Jesus’ exhortation for His followers to pray to “escape all these things” meant to pray that they would be raptured to heaven.
Scriptural perspective –
“That Day” refers to the cataclysmic events of the great tribulation in which, “men’s hearts [will be] failing them from fear (v.26)”
Jesus warned His disciples not to be “weighed down with carousing, drunkenness, and cares of this life (vs. 34)” so as to be caught off guard as in a “snare.” Therefore, He exhorts them to be watchful. His reinforces His exhortation by warning the disciples that “all those who dwell on the face of the whole earth (vs. 35)” will be caught in this snare, as they will be unprepared. The main point Jesus is communicating is, don’t be like the rest of the world that will be unprepared and caught of guard by the events to come because their hearts were weighed down with carousing, drunkenness, and the cares of this life, but rather be watchful!
What does it mean to escape “all these things?”
Escaping the deception, he warned them of in vs. 8
Escaping the dangers in Jerusalem vv. 20-24
Escaping the licentious living in v. 34
Where should those who Jesus was speaking to escape to?
He told them to “flee [from Judea] to the mountains (v. 21)” because Jerusalem “will fall by the edge of the sword (v. 24).”
This had a narrow fulfilment in AD 70 when Jerusalem was literally “trampled by Gentiles (v. 24)”
If Jesus had meant for escaping to mean being raptured to heaven, then no one must have prayed this prayer because no one was raptured to heaven when the Roman armies descended on Jerusalem. However, many escaped to the mountains like Jesus told them to.
“Standing before the Son of Man” (v. 36) is an important concept in relationship to the End-Times. “For the great day of His wrath has come, and who is able to stand?” (Rev. 6:17). “Standing” in context of Luke 21 is a continuation of Jesus’ exhortation to be found worthy. Notice the continuity of thought between being “counted worthy” and “standing”, “and pray always that you may be counted worthy to escape all these things that will come to pass, and to stand before the Son of Man.” (V. 36) The idea is that when Jesus returns they will have been preserved in righteousness to stand without condemnation and unashamed before Jesus. “And now…abide in Him, that when He appears, we may have confidence and not be ashamed before Him at His coming.” (1 John 2:28). Those who are “worthy” to “stand” are those who have an authentic faith in Christ, as opposed to those whose “hearts [were] weighed down with carousing, drunkenness, and cares of this life” (v. 36).
We don’t have to ask God to be included in the rapture – it is part of our inheritance through Christ.
“What About” #6: Isn’t God a God of Comfort?
Pre-tribulation argument – The bible defines God as a God of comfort; therefore we will be raptured to heaven before the tribulation.
Scriptural perspective –
The Bible promises that Christians will face tribulation in this life. The difference between tribulation now, and the final seven years of tribulation is a difference of degree not kind. The idea that God’s comfort means that Christians will not face tribulation has never been true throughout history, and it will not be true during the final seven years of tribulation.
Comfort means to strengthen and encourage. When the apostle Paul exhorted the church to comfort each other concerning Christ’s return, he was not speaking of a secret rapture. The church was already under persecution at that time. Paul was encouraging them to be strengthened and encouraged by the fact that although they are were in the midst of suffering, one day Christ would return, and their suffering would end.
16 For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. 17 Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus, we shall always be with the Lord. 18 Therefore comfort one another with these words. – 1 Thess. 4:15-18.
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of all comfort, 4 who comforts us in all our tribulation, that we might be able to comfort those who are in any trouble with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. 5 For as the sufferings of Christ abound in us, so our consolation also abounds through Christ. …7 And our hope for you is steadfast, because we know that as you are partakers of the sufferings, so also you will partake of the consolation. – 2 Cor. 2-5, 7
Paul views our comfort in God during suffering as a means of comforting others in their suffering.
False Comfort vs. True Comfort – The pre-tribulation doctrine of comfort teaches a false form of comfort. We need reality when it comes to matters as serious as the Tribulation presents. The reality is that although the Church will experience a time of tribulation, God will give us the strength to endure through the midst of it. Although it will be the hour of our greatest trial, we can be comforted by knowing that Jesus is soon to return. As Christians, our comfort should never come from our outward circumstances, but rather, it should be an inward reality that flows out of knowing God.
Christians and the Tribulation
The Bible promises that Christians will experience tribulation in this life –
Jesus taught His disciples that their lives would be characterized by persecution and tribulation.
…In the world you will have tribulation… – John 16:33
…They will deliver you up to tribulation and kill you, and you will be hated by all nations for My name’s sake. – Matt. 24:9
Paul affirmed that Christians will suffer tribulation –
Yes and all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution. – 2 Tim. 3:12
…No one should be shaken by these afflictions; for you yourselves know that we are appointed to this. 4 For, in fact, we told you before when we were with you that we would suffer tribulation, just as it happened, and you know. – 1 Thess. 3:3-4
And when they had preached the gospel to that city and made many disciples, exhorting them to continue in the faith, and saying, “We must through many tribulations enter the kingdom of God.” – Acts 14:22
Peter’s epistles were written to encourage Churches facing persecution.
Beloved, do not think it strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened to you. – 1 Peter 4:12
Purposes for Christians in tribulation –
Trials and Tribulation serve to Purify the Church –
My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, 3 knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. 4 But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing. – James 1:2-4
…You have been grieved by various trials, 7 that the genuineness of your faith, being much more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire, may be found to praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ. – 1 Pet. 1:6-7
For I consider that the suffering of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us. – Rom. 8:18
…May the God of all grace, who called us to His eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after you have suffered a while, perfect, establish, strengthen, and settle you. – 1 Pet. 5:10
Therefore we do not lose heart. Even though our outward man is perishing our inward man is being renewed day by day. 17 For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory, 18 while we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal. – 2 Cor. 4:16-18
The Church will preach the Gospel and disciple the nations during the tribulation
This gospel of the kingdom will be preached in all the world as a witness to all the nations, and then the end will come. – Matt. 24:14
“Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” – Matt. 28:19-20
The Command to Persevere –
“Because you have kept My command to persevere, I also will keep (guard over) you from (in the midst of) the hour of trial which shall come upon the whole world, to test those who dwell on the earth.” – Rev. 3:10
By this you know the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is of God, 3 and every spirit that does not confess that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is not of God. And this is the spirit of the Antichrist, which you have heard was coming, and is now already in the world. 4 You are of God, little children, and have overcome them, because He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world. – 1 John 4:2-4
“…He who endures to the end shall be saved.” – Matt. 24:13
“…I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” – Matt. 28:20
Believing in a pre-tribulation rapture scenario requires one to hurdle over many biblical obstacles. This view forces me to compromise the plain sense meaning of scripture in order to embrace a system of theology, namely, dispensationalism. I find these arguments from silence and scriptural contradictions to difficult to overcome.
Conclusion – “The pre-tribulation argument is an argument from silence based on inferences in Scripture that really do not exist. I must draw the conclusion that this is a false teaching, and like all false teachings, is dangerous. The danger is that Jesus already warned that many will fall away from the faith. How much more will that be a reality for those who have not been prepared.” – David Pawson (When He Returns)
Author Benjamin Nolot