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In order to understand the doctrine of the rapture, it is necessary to understand other doctrines of the Scriptures as well. We cannot comprehend any single doctrine without it being precept upon precept, line upon line, here a little, there a little.
Isaiah 28:9, 10 Whom shall he teach knowledge? and whom shall he make to understand doctrine? them that are weaned from the milk, and drawn from the breasts. For precept must be upon precept, precept upon precept; line upon line, line upon line; here a little, and there a little.
In studying the rapture, we must look at the entire Bible in order to come to a reasonable conclusion of the matter, rather than picking out isolated verses that seem to justify our particular view of this doctrine. In order to teach the doctrine of the rapture according to the integrity of the Word, we must be able to prove the doctrine with all the available verses of Scripture, not just a few. One of the biblical doctrines that we must know in order to understand the rapture is the doctrine of the resurrection of the dead. Why is the resurrection of the dead so important to comprehending the rapture and the events that must take place prior to it? Simply because the Bible states that the dead in Christ will precede those of us who are alive and remain.
1 Thessalonians 4:16, 17 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.
If the dead in Christ must rise first before the believers who are alive at His coming are changed, then it should be of great interest to us to search out the doctrine of the resurrection of the dead.
For example, how many resurrections of the dead are recorded in the Bible? By resurrection of the dead I mean the mass resurrections of the dead, one of which will immediately precede the rapture, not individual resurrections or translations such as Lazarus, Enoch, or Elijah.
It is commonly taught in some circles that there are as many as nine resurrections of the dead. This is an elaborate scheme to defame the Holy Scriptures in an attempt to justify false teaching concerning the rapture. The dead in Christ who will be raised at the rapture are referred to in the Scriptures as the resurrection of the just.
The resurrection of the just is indeed that resurrection of the dead in Christ that occurs immediately before the rapture.
There is much confusion in the Church today as to when Jesus is coming back for His bride. The three most common doctrines that are being taught are the pre-tribulation rapture, Jesus coming before the Great Tribulation, which according to this line of thought is a period of seven years, the mid-tribulation rapture, occurring in the middle of the seven year period known as the seventieth week of Daniel and the post-tribulation rapture which occurs after the entire seven year period has elapsed. One of the greatest stumbling blocks concerning the doctrine of the rapture is a lack of understanding of the doctrine of the resurrection of the dead.
If we can know for certain when the resurrection of the just, also known as the first resurrection occurs, then we can know with greater certainty when the rapture occurs in relation to the seven year period of time known as The Seventieth Week of Daniel. Let’s take a look at the resurrection of the dead according to the Bible.
John 5:28, 29 Marvel not at this: for the hour is coming, in the which all that are in the graves shall hear his voice, And shall come forth; they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation.
Acts 24:14, 15 But this I confess unto thee, that after the way which they call heresy, so worship I the God of my fathers, believing all things which are written in the law and in the prophets: And have hope toward God, which they themselves also allow, that there shall be a resurrection of the dead, both of the just and unjust.
Luke 14:14 And thou shalt be blessed; for they cannot recompense thee: for thou shalt be recompensed at the resurrection of the just.
In searching the Scriptures we can find only two mass resurrections of the dead. They are referred to as the resurrection of the just and the resurrection of the unjust. They are also referred to as the first and second, or final resurrection.
Revelations 20:4-6 And I saw thrones, and they sat upon them, and judgment 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.
In investigating these verses of Scripture, understanding that according to the Bible there are but two mass resurrections of the dead, we can easily conclude that the rapture takes place AFTER the great tribulation, considering the fact that those who took part in the first resurrection were in the earth during the time of the rule of anti-Christ, proven by the fact that they did not receive his mark, nor did they worship him. Just how many were there that came out of this great tribulation?
Revelations 7:9-14 After this I beheld, and, lo, a great multitude, which no man could number, of all nations, and kindreds, and people, and tongues, stood before the throne, and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, and palms in their hands; And cried with a loud voice, saying, Salvation to our God which sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb. And all the angels stood round about the throne, and about the elders and the four beasts, and fell before the throne on their faces, and worshipped God, Saying, Amen: Blessing, and glory, and wisdom, and thanksgiving, and honour, and power, and might, be unto our God for ever and ever. Amen. And one of the elders answered, saying unto me, What are these which are arrayed in white robes? and whence came they? And I said unto him, Sir, thou knowest. And he said to me, These are they which came out of great tribulation, and have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.
In studying the rapture, we would do well to search out what Jesus taught on the subject and then see how all other Scriptures line up with His teachings. If we can believe anyone's teaching on the rapture, surely we can believe what Jesus taught. His teaching on the timing of the rapture is so clear that we so easily stumble over it.
Matthew 24:29-31 Immediately after the tribulation of those days shall the sun be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken: And then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. And he shall send his angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.
Some might say that those who came out of the great tribulation are those who were saved after the Church was raptured. It is generally taught that after the Church is raptured, those who were unbelieving and skeptical toward the gospel, will at this time realize their error and turn to Jesus Christ and be saved.
Most ministers teach that the loved ones and families of those who do not make it in the rapture will have another chance to accept Jesus and be saved. Can this be true? Will those who do not go in the rapture have another opportunity to be saved? Again, let’s go to the Bible.
Luke 17:26-30 And as it was in the days of Noe, so shall it be also in the days of the Son of man. They did eat, they drank, they married wives, they were given in marriage, until the day that Noe entered into the ark, and the flood came, and destroyed them all. Likewise also as it was in the days of Lot; they did eat, they drank, they bought, they sold, they planted, they builded; But the same day that Lot went out of Sodom it rained fire and brimstone from heaven, and destroyed them all. Even thus shall it be in the day when the Son of man is revealed.
Matthew 25:1-12 Then shall the kingdom of heaven be likened unto ten virgins, which took their lamps, and went forth to meet the bridegroom. And five of them were wise, and five were foolish. They that were foolish took their lamps, and took no oil with them: But the wise took oil in their vessels with their lamps. While the bridegroom tarried, they all slumbered and slept. And at midnight there was a cry made, Behold, the bridegroom cometh; go ye out to meet him. Then all those virgins arose, and trimmed their lamps.
(8) And the foolish said unto the wise, Give us of your oil; for our lamps are gone out. But the wise answered, saying, Not so; lest there be not enough for us and you: but go ye rather to them that sell, and buy for yourselves. And while they went to buy, the bridegroom came; and they that were ready went in with him to the marriage: and the door was shut. Afterward came also the other virgins, saying, Lord, Lord, open to us. But he answered and said, Verily I say unto you, I know you not.
In the above verses of Scripture, it is quite clear that those who do not go in the rapture will remain on the earth to suffer the wrath of God which will begin on the same day that the Church is raptured. There is a great deal of confusion as to what the wrath of God is and when it will be poured out upon the earth. The wrath of God does not last for seven years as is commonly taught and neither is the rule of the anti - Christ considered to be the wrath of God. We will see later that the “Great Tribulation” is the devil’s wrath against all mankind and has absolutely nothing to do with the wrath of God.
Since the coming of the Lord and the gathering together of the saints will be just like it was in the days of Noah and Lot, there are some questions that must be answered.
Was it possible for anyone to be saved after the door was shut on the ark and the rain began? NO!
Was it possible for anyone to be saved after Lot and his family came out of Sodom? NO!
Jesus said it will be the same way when He comes and the Church is gathered together. No one will have the opportunity to be saved after the rapture. Those who are left behind will face a more terrible fate than the great tribulation. They will face the unbridled wrath of God with no hope of being saved. We will also see according to the Bible that the seven year period of time known as Daniel’s seventieth week is not the great tribulation as many suppose. According to the Scriptures, the great tribulation does not begin until the middle of the week, or three and one-half years after the seven year period begins.
This particular doctrinal error, along with many others, has caused the Church to believe a lie, that is; the doctrine of the pre-tribulation rapture. You may think that is strong language to say that the pre-tribulation rapture teaching is a lie and I would agree with you. But straight truth is desperately needed today in a society and a Church where immorality and self-serving doctrine is the fare of the day. There were some in Paul’s day who taught false doctrine concerning end-time events. They were teaching that the resurrection of the dead had already taken place. What did Paul have to say about this doctrinal error? Did he just ignore it and hope it would straighten itself out? Look at how Paul dealt with this doctrinal error and how he viewed those who were teaching false doctrine.
2 Timothy 2:15-18 Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. But shun profane and vain babblings: for they will increase unto more ungodliness. And their word will eat as doth a canker: of whom is Hymenaeus and Philetus;
(18) Who concerning the truth have erred, saying that the resurrection is past already; and overthrow the faith of some.
The pre-tribulation rapture doctrine is doing the same as the false doctrine propagated by Hymenaeus and Philetus. It is overthrowing the faith of some who hear and prescribe to it. This doctrine that teaches salvation after the rapture of the Church has the potential to lead many into the bowels of hell and to spend eternity in the lake of fire that burns with fire and brimstone. Now is the time to preach the gospel to your family and friends so they can be saved! Don't trust in a lie that can rob them of eternal life! When Jeremiah prophesied to the nation of Israel that they would go into captivity for a period of seventy years, according to the word of the Lord, no one wanted to believe him. The same is true today of those who are teaching that the Church will have to endure the great tribulation, or in effect, go into captivity. These teachers of truth are received about as well today as Jeremiah was in his day.
Of course there were the false prophets who contradicted the word of the Lord through Jeremiah the truth and prophesied to and taught the people what they wanted to hear. The same is true today. False doctrine is clouding the truth and many false prophets and false teachers are prophesying to and teaching the people what they want to hear. What will be the consequences for those who prophesy and teach lies? Hear what God said to Hananiah, a prophet who prophesied lies to the people of God concerning the seventy years of captivity that Jeremiah prophesied of in the word of the Lord:
Jeremiah 28:10-17 Then Hananiah the prophet took the yoke from off the prophet Jeremiah's neck, and brake it. And Hananiah spake in the presence of all the people, saying, Thus saith the LORD; Even so will I break the yoke of Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon from the neck of all nations within the space of two full years. And the prophet Jeremiah went his way. Then the word of the LORD came unto Jeremiah the prophet, after that Hananiah the prophet had broken the yoke from off the neck of the prophet Jeremiah, saying, Go and tell Hananiah, saying, Thus saith the LORD; Thou hast broken the yokes of wood; but thou shalt make for them yokes of iron. For thus saith the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel; I have put a yoke of iron upon the neck of all these nations, that they may serve Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon; and they shall serve him: and I have given him the beasts of the field also. Then said the prophet Jeremiah unto Hananiah the prophet, Hear now, Hananiah; The LORD hath not sent thee; but thou makest this people to trust in a lie. Therefore thus saith the LORD; Behold, I will cast thee from off the face of the earth: this year thou shalt die, because thou hast taught rebellion against the LORD. So Hananiah the prophet died the same year in the seventh month.
Of course, we don’t see many prophets and teachers’ dying today because of teaching false doctrine and prophesying lies. For this reason and because of the fact that most teachers are teaching it, it seems that God must approve of the pre-tribulation doctrine.
Consequently, there is not a great regard for purity of doctrine in the Church and there is very little fear of God in teaching doctrine. Many believe that we can teach whatever we believe personally and what we receive by “revelation” from the Holy Spirit. The problem with that is that obviously we are not all hearing from the same spirit. Some of us are hearing from a spirit of error and believing that we are hearing from God. Nearly everyone who teaches the rapture doctrine claims to have received his revelation from the Holy Spirit. I would like to make it clear, based on the authority of the Holy Scriptures, which the doctrine of the Church being raptured before the great tribulation begins, pre-tribulation rapturism is a false doctrine. I do not mean to say that all who teach it are false teachers, but do not be deceived, it is a false doctrine! I am not opposed to my brethren in Christ who teach the pre-tribulation doctrine, but I am very much opposed to the doctrine itself. Most ministers who teach the pre-tribulation doctrine sincerely believe their doctrine is correct and do not intend to lead believers away from the truth of God's Word.
But, we are living, I believe, in the very last of the last days and the doctrine of the second coming of Christ and the gathering together of His saints, must be preached and taught accurately. And it must be taught, "precept upon precept and line upon line”. May God give us the grace to come to a unified understanding of this most important doctrine? Many ministers believe that the doctrine is not that important and to avoid controversy, will not teach it. But beloved, please know that this doctrine is extremely important. If you believe that your family and friends will have another opportunity to be saved after the gathering together, you may be slack in preaching the gospel to them. Please remember, today is the day of salvation. Preach the gospel to them and pray for their salvation while the opportunity is still there.
2 Thessalonians 2:3, 4 Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition; Who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, shewing himself that he is God.
Since the rapture cannot occur until the anti-Christ is revealed, which occurs in the middle of the week, the rapture cannot possibly take place until at least three and-one-half years after the beginning of the seventieth week of Daniel. DO NOT BE DECEIVED!
Some, perhaps most who believe in and teach the pre-tribulation rapture, have been taught this doctrine from others and have been blinded by their traditional understanding.
I would challenge anyone who believes in a pre-tribulation rapture to search the Scriptures (all the Scriptures) pertaining to the rapture and events that will occur during the last days and see if all of the Scriptures say the same thing, using of course, the "precept upon precept, line upon line" method of interpreting Scripture. In light of the whole word of God, the doctrine of the pre-tribulation rapture is exposed for what it is, a false doctrine that has slipped into the Church under the appearance of Holy Spirit "revelation."
While the Bible promises persecution and tribulation to the believer just prior to the coming of Christ, this false doctrine promises freedom from persecution and promotes superiority within the body of Christ. Not to mention the fact that, people who will not endure sound doctrine, will pay generously to have their itching ears scratched.
2 Timothy 4:2-4 Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables.
I do not mean to imply that all who teach the pre-tribulation doctrine do so for financial gain, but we must look at the millions, perhaps billions of dollars that are being made by teaching this false doctrine. In book stores everywhere, including department stores, these books are offered and sold in abundance. I personally have some very good friends who believe in and teach the pre-tribulation doctrine. We continue to fellowship in the love of Christ, even though we differ on this doctrinal issue. The Scriptures teach us to "endeavor to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace." This is my position toward those who teach the pre-tribulation error. I love my brethren in Christ and I will not attack them personally, but I will do all that I can to disprove this incorrect doctrine and sound a warning to the Church concerning this damnable doctrine.
Others, who approach doctrine from an intellectual standpoint, miss the revelation from the Holy Spirit on the doctrine of the rapture. These are those who, by carnal reasoning remove the power of God from the Scriptures. They usually do not believe in the power of the Holy Spirit being ministered through His saints through the gifts of the Spirit. Many of them believe in the end doctrine, the belief that the gifts of the Spirit have ceased with the canonization of the Scriptures. They therefore cannot easily receive revelation from the Holy Spirit and consequently their doctrine is based on their natural reasoning, rather than by revelation from the Spirit of truth. Rather than believing the Holy Spirit to reveal truth concerning the Word, they are hard at work to disprove the power of the Scriptures. They do not understand that the Holy Spirit reveals the truth and the power of the word, rather than to disprove it. They do error, not knowing the Scriptures, nor the power of God. Understanding then, according to the Scriptures, that there is no second chance to be saved after the rapture, it is urgent that we preach the gospel to our friends, loved ones and to others while there is still hope.
How tragic it would be if Christians sit back comfortably waiting for the rapture, believing that their families and friends will be saved afterward and then come face-to-face with the reality that they will forever be doomed to eternal torment in the lake of fire that burns with fire and brimstone. This fact in itself should encourage us to study end-time events with an open heart and mind, understanding the word of God and bringing salvation and warning to the unlearned and unbelieving. Many will say that the doctrine of the rapture and end-time events is not that important and that we should avoid it because it is so controversial.
Please consider this; if we were to ignore Bible doctrine simply because it is controversial we would have to ignore all Bible doctrine. How can we disregard something that is given so much place in Scripture and how can we say that it doesn’t apply to us and we don’t need to know? Martin Luther and many others risked their lives to restore truth to the Church.
Martin Luther's doctrines were certainly controversial and he was himself branded a heretic for daring to oppose the false doctrine of his day. We would still be in the dark ages if not for men like Martin Luther and others who endured ridicule and persecution to bring truth to God's people. Accordingly, some today are daring to go against the religious grain and refute the false doctrine of the pre-tribulation rapture. Some of them are also being branded as heretics by those who oppose the truth. But, thanks be to God, all Christians who love the truth of the Holy Scriptures, are receiving the truth and are sharing that truth with their friends and loved ones. Also, if we believe that we are living in the last days, we should want to understand the events that are just ahead of us, unless we have assumed an ostrich mentality and buried our heads in the sand. To disagree with the pre-tribulation rapture theory is equivalent to denying the faith in the minds of some. This false doctrine has so permeated the thinking of most Christians today that it is almost thought of as blasphemy to disagree with it.
Most of the arguments in favor of pre-tribulation are based on a few Scripture verses, (simply because there are only a few that seem to validate this thought) and fierce argument ranging from character assassination toward those who dare to be of a different opinion and volumes of current events which all somehow seem to prove the pre-tribulation belief and many words of contention which are against of scriptural reference.