Debunking the Pre-Tribulation Rapture Myths

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Pastor Michael Brigmond

Apostolic Lighthouse Church, Kissimmee, FL

View From the Lighthouse

 Volume 11, Issue 4, Oct 2005

Reprinted by permission

Myth #1 = "Since God hath not appointed us to wrath, then a pre-tribulation Rapture must be correct."

A portion of the Pre-Trib Rapture doctrine is based upon a statement made by the apostle Paul in his first letter to the church in Thessalonica, “For God hath not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ,” (1 Thessalonians 5:9)

Paul has clearly informed us that God has not appointed his people to wrath. The common understanding of this assurance is that Paul was plainly speaking of God's wrath that will be poured out during the tribulation. Pre-trib believers cite this as “proof” that believers will be removed from the earth prior to the Tribulation period. But Post-trib believers find greater assurance in their understanding that God will not allow His wrath to effect the Believers during the tribulation while He pours out His wrath on the unbelievers. The Pre-Trib view severely limits God ability to protect His people while He punishes their enemies.

The Pre-Tribbers think they have the Post-Tribs boxed in by quoting Revelation 13:7 where the Antichrist is given power to make war with the saints and to over come them. Please note, “Persecution from Antichrist is not the same as Wrath from God.”

Persecution from Antichrist is not the same as Wrath from God.”

The wrath of God is far worse, as it will destroy and condemn to Hell. The true wrath of God means eternal destruction. Whatever an antichrist may do, no matter how evil, mean and destructive he becomes, he can only destroy the body, not the soul. Regardless of the power given to him, no antichrist is capable of pouring out the wrath of God. Only God can do that. The pre-tribs often confuse the wrath of God with the persecution from the antichrist. They are not the same thing. The wrath of God is intended for the ungodly and will be poured upon them and them only. The Lord knows His target and He never misses.

One Pre-Tribber revealed his lack of faith and knowledge of God when stating, A post-trib view would make God's promise of protection from wrath into a lie. In years past, it was possible to think of protection from guns and swords. Today when the battles are fought with nuclear and chemical weapons, it's not possible to expect protection from these types of forces.”

Oh, ye of little faith! Is God incapable of protecting us from nuclear and chemical weapons? Has God’s limit been found, or a weakness in Him exposed? Get Real. Pre-Tribs often cite instances during war when both believers and non-believers were killed by bombs indiscriminately dropped in a war zone. This illustration is given to imply that our only protection is removal. While it is true that an atomic bomb will kill anyone within its range, we must not forget that a nuclear warhead and the wrath of God are not the same things. It is appointed unto man once to die. If the Lord tarries long enough we shall attend our appointment with death. Jesus warned in Matthew 10:28, “And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.”

The Pre-Trib conclusion is that the only way to correctly interpret God's promise of protection from wrath is the bodily removal of the Church from this world. This is a very wrong conclusion. A bodily removal of the church would not be a “protection” from wrath, but an “escape” from wrath. While an escape may be man’s preferred way, it is not God’s planned way. To correctly interpret God’s promise of protection, one must stay with Scripture and avoid man’s concepts and theories. God’s power and glory will be evident as He delivers His bride throughout great Tribulation.  

One well meaning pre-trib brother said, “One thing I know for sure: The Lord is not coming back to beat up His bride.”

We certainly agree with that! But the point is, “His bride has been on the receiving end of severe punishment and persecution since the birth of the church. No, He is not coming back to beat up His bride, but He is coming back to destroy those who have persecuted her.”                                                                                                                                                

Myth #2 = "Jesus said we are the salt of the earth. When the believers are suddenly removed, the earth will be plunged into spiritual darkness and the Antichrist will have a free hand to control the world.”

 

There are at least 2 serious flaws in this statement. First, it is not the strength or power of the church that holds back “antichrist,” it’s the power of God. Even if the church were removed, the power of God will remain. It was here before the Holy Ghost was given and will remain until the end.

Secondly, this verse is taken out of context. Matthew 5:10-13 is an admonition to the believer to be strong during times of persecution. If anything, the reference to the “Salt of the Earth” points to the attitude and conduct of the believer DURING the tribulation period. Read it for yourself:

Matthew 5:10-13 “Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness' sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. (11) Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake. (12) Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you. (13) Ye are the salt of the earth: but if the salt have lost his savour, wherewith shall it be salted? it is thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of men.”

An antichrist can only do what God allows. The hand of the wicked has no more freedom today than it did a hundred, or a thousand years ago. Only what God allows. It has always been that way and always will.

 

Myth #3 = If the Church is here during the Tribulation, she would rebuke the Antichrist.

 

The Pre-Trib mindset says,If the Antichrist came to power with the Church still here, he would be powerless to operate. When Hitler was fighting to conquer England, a number of Christians where praying for victory. Hitler made mistake after mistake, and England out performed its enemy at every stage of the conflict. It is difficult to measure the actual impact of intercessory prayer in physical warfare. Little is known of how great a role praying saints played in the defeat of Nazi Germany. If the Church was to reside on earth during the tribulation, I am sure she would give the Antichrist fits. In Rev 11:3 the two witnesses give the Antichrist enough headaches. Millions of Christian, who know their Bible well, would recognize the man of sin and pray fire down on his head. A post-trib view would have to plan on the Church just rolling over and playing dead, the whole seven years.

If Myth #3 is right, then where are these praying Christians that are standing against evil today? How can homosexuality run rampant and terrorism thrive against such a strong praying church? With all the prayers that were prayed for Teri Schiavo how is it we could not stop a reprobate court system? And you think if the church is here during tribulation the Antichrist will be powerless?

Of the beast in Revelation 13, the Scripture says, in verse seven, “And it was given unto him to make war with the saints, and to overcome them: and power was given him over all kindreds, and tongues, and nations.” The saints will make trouble for the antichrist and he will overcome them. As noted above, the two witnesses, obviously Christian, make plenty of trouble for him.

Please note: Not one verse of Scripture shows the Tribulation to be seven years. That concept comes from Dispensational theory and not from Scripture.

Myth #4 = “In the Twinkling of an Eye” means the Rapture is Imminent

 

The following four points were written in a single paragraph by J. R. Church and published in Prophezine, an on-line dispensational, pre-trib newsletter.  There are many problems with Mr. Church’s thesis. We will deal with some of the key errors in his viewpoint:

1. “Mainline theologians have long taught that the rapture of New Testament Christianity is imminent - that is, at any moment. We have held to the view of a pretribulation rapture primarily because a mid or post-trib rapture would not be imminent.”

We can safely say the return of Christ will be sudden when it occurs, as “in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye,” but sudden does not mean imminent. Consider the fact that in the entire Bible, there are no verses of Scripture that state the return of Jesus Christ and the gathering together of the saints, is “imminent.” In fact, the word, “imminent” is not even found in a single verse of Scripture, Old or New Testament. When Jesus returns, He will come quickly, but His return has not been imminent for the past 2000 years.

According to the Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary  “imminent” comes from Latin and means: to project, threaten, ready to take place; especially: hanging threateningly over one's head <as one in imminent danger of being run over>.

If the truck is coming and contact is only a second away we consider that to be ‘imminent’, but sitting in the middle of a road in the jungle with no truck in sight is not ‘imminent’. Eventually a truck will come and when it does it may come at a high rate of speed, but until the truck is only moments away, it is not imminent.

For the saints of God the return of Jesus Christ is certainly not an event that is ”hanging threateningly” over our heads. So why use the word: “imminent?” Obviously an imminent rapture is in fact used as a “threat” to the unsaved, but it is not Scriptural.

The fact that we do not know the day, nor the hour, of the Lord’s return does not mean that his return is imminent. It simply means that it is a secret known only to God. When it does happen, it will happen suddenly! The moment before it happens it will be imminent.

The question is, “Why is it so important that the return of the Lord be imminent,” especially when there is not a single verse of Scripture that supports an “imminent” return of the Lord? Sudden: yes; imminent: no. Mr. Church tries to answer that question with the next sentence in the subject paragraph:

2. “If any predicted event had to occur before the rapture, the church would be awaiting that event instead of the shout and trumpet sound.”

Does Mr. Church doubt Jesus? Does he not believe the very words the Lord Himself spoke concerning the last days? Matthew 24 is filled with events that must precede the return of Jesus Christ and the catching away of His bride. Below is a synopsis of some of the things that Jesus said must precede the return of Christ:

                       

Ø       Abundance of Messianic Deception

Ø       Nations & kingdoms at war & rumors of war

Ø       Famine, pestilence and earthquakes

Ø       Believers hated, afflicted and killed

Ø       Many are offended and betray one another

Ø       False prophets deceive many

Ø       Iniquity abounds, love waxes cold

Ø       Gospel is preached in all the world

Ø       Abomination of desolation in a holy place

Ø       There shall be great tribulation

Ø       With great signs and wonders false christs and false prophets try to deceive the very elect.

 

Matthew 24:29-31 = Immediately after the tribulation the sun and moon shall be darkened, the stars shall fall from heaven, the powers of the heavens shall be shaken: (30) 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. (31) 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.

Matthew 24:32-33 = “Now learn a parable of the fig tree; When his branch is yet tender, and putteth forth leaves, ye know that summer is nigh: So likewise ye, when ye shall see all these things, know that it is near, even at the doors.

Yes, Mr. Church, when ye shall see all these things, know that it is near, even at the door. While there is no Santa Claus, there are events that must precede the return of Jesus Christ, a.k.a. the rapture.  

Matthew 24:27 For as the lightning cometh out of the east, and shineth even unto the west; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be.

His return will be at lightning speed and visible for all to see, but for the past 2000 years His return has not been imminent.

Matthew 24:36  But of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only.

It is a secret, known only unto God. God has many secret that are only revealed in due time, but the revealing of His secrets cannot be considered imminent.

Matthew 24:42 Watch therefore: for ye know not what hour your Lord doth come.

Jesus repeated the fact that we need to be ready, but he did not indicate that his return was imminent.

Matthew 24:44 Therefore be ye also ready: for in such an hour as ye think not the Son of man cometh.

If his return was imminent, we would know the hour because it would be hanging threateningly over our heads.

Mr. Church’s argument becomes weaker as he continues:

3. “If we did not keep ourselves diligent, we might not have an incentive to keep ourselves pure.”

Is he suggesting that without the threat of rapture, we would fail God? Does he think we are serving the Lord only because we are in danger of His return? Has Mr. Church not read that we are to deny ourselves, pick up our cross daily and follow him? Is he not aware of our need to present our bodies a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God? This is a daily requirement. We would tire of listing instructions from Scripture that are given to keep us pure and holy before God.

Having wasted all those words, Mr. Church whimpers out the last “evidence” of an “imminent” catching away:

4. “Also, the teaching of Jesus that no man would know the day nor hour would be invalid.” 

It is a 2000 year old secret, Mr. J. R. Church, not an indicator of something that is imminent. How is it that a pre-trib Dispensationalist can take English words, not having a root in Scripture, and create doctrines, thereby adding to Scripture, and then have the audacity to suggest that rejecting one of those man-made doctrines invalidates Scripture?

The return of Jesus Christ is “secret,” but not imminent. The “rapture” cannot happen until all of the events Jesus said would take place have been fulfilled.  [][][][]

 

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