Unless the Church is raptured to heaven, it is left on earth to experience the horrors of the Tribulation. This post deals with the consequences of this popular teaching that there is no rapture.
Part 3: Will the Church go through the Tribulation?
If the Church will go through the Tribulation, then there can be no rapture before it begins. In this article I will address both. According to the book of Revelation and Matthew 24, the Tribulation is a definite period of time (7 years) during which God’s wrath (through Christ) is poured out upon earth’s inhabitance through a series of seal, trumpet, and bowl judgments. It is the time Daniel spoke of in Chapter 9 as the 70th week of his great prophecy that predicted the exact day that Israel’s Messiah would present Himself to His people, Israel. The last half of this 7-year period is referred to as the “Time of Jacob’s Trouble” since this is when God’s wrath is poured out on rebellious, idolatrous, and unbelieving Israel before the Israeli remnant (Rom. 9:27; 11:7) is saved (Zech. 12:10).
A Time of Wrath
As horrible as the seal, trumpet, and bowl judgments are, they are but a prelude to what the Bible calls the “great and terrible day of the Lord” of Revelation 19:11-16 when Christ returns (from heaven) as King of Kings and Lord of Lords with His Church, which has just become His bride to slay His enemies. In verses 17 and 18 we see him treading “the winepress of the fierceness of the wrath of God, the Almighty.
So, the belief that believers will go through the Tribulation is false because:
The book of Revelation explains in consecutive order the events that will occur during those seven years. According to Revelation 1:19, the book is divided into three sections:
- The things John saw in his vision of the risen Christ in chapter 1.
- The things that are as represented in the “letters” to the seven churches in chapters 2 and 3.
- The things which shall take place after these things.
Chapters 2 and 3 are all about the seven first century churches in Asia Minor, but they also speak to our churches today. The next time the church is referenced in Revelation is in the first verse of Chapter 4 when a voice (from heaven) like the sound of a trumpet says, “Come up hear.” This fits perfectly with Thessalonians 4:16 and 17:
For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive, who remain, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord.
The next time the church is referenced is in chapter 19 when the Church (now as His Bride) returns with Him from heaven. The Church is never mentioned during all these judgments. Also, in Chapter 3:10 Christ had no words of condemnation for the church at Philadelphia, telling them, “Because you have kept the word of my perseverance, I will keep you from the hour of testing which is about to come upon the whole world to test those who dwell upon the earth. It is significant that this letter ends with “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.” The worldwide hour of testing can only be the Tribulation, from which the Church is delivered.
The Restrainer is Removed
A further reason to Believe the Church will not go through it is found in 2 Thess. 2:7-8. In order for the Antichrist to come to power, his greatest obstacle must be removed. I believe these verses refer to the presence of the Holy Spirit in the lives of believers. This “restrainer” is removed from the earth in the rapture.
Perhaps the best evidence for a real, actual rapture is found in 1 Cor. 15:51-53:
Behold, I am telling you a mystery; we will not all sleep, but we will all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet; for the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. For this perishable must put on the imperishable, and this mortal must put on immortality.
If this isn’t referring to the rapture, then what? If we let the Bible speak for itself, the Church does not go through the Tribulation because it is in heaven during the entire 7-year period. The second reason is that Paul stated clearly that those who were Christ’s would be saved from the wrath to come. Consider these verses:
Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from the wrath of God through Him (Rom. 5:9).
and to wait for His Son from heaven, whom He raised from the dead, that is, Jesus who rescues us from the wrath to come (1 Thess. 1:10).
The following verses remind us that, indeed, the Tribulation is all about God’s wrath from which believers are saved:
for the great day of their wrath has come, and who is able to stand? (Rev. 6:17)
So the angel swung his sickle to the earth and gathered the clusters from the vine of the earth, and threw them into the great wine press of the wrath of God (Rev. 14:19).
Here’s one final verse that speaks to the rapture when Christ comes for His church:
In My Father’s house are many rooms; if that were not so, I would have told you, because I am going there to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I am coming again and will take you to Myself, so that where I am, there you also will be (John 14:2-3).
If we take God at His word, believers, as members of Christ’s Church, will not go through the Tribulation. So, for someone to believe that the Church will go through the Tribulation, he must believe that God’s Word cannot be trusted to mean what it clearly says. Those who teach these doctrines of demons are just like the Gnostics of Paul’s day, claiming that they have “special knowledge that allows them to know the hidden truth. Therefore, they filter every passage of the word of God through their filter of “enlightenment to determine what God really mean when it appears that He is saying something else.
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