Eschatology 5

“Do this, knowing the time, that it is already the hour for you to awaken from sleep; for now salvation is nearer to us than when we believed. The night is almost gone, and the day is near. Therefore let us lay aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light.” (Romans 13:11-12)

The Imminent Rapture

As we study further the Rapture of Christ’s Church the view is that it is imminent. The word imminent means “ready to take place.” In the New Testament which gives us clue that the rapture is to come there is nothing prophetically that needs to happen before the rapture. These verse give us the hope of a soon revelation of the Lord Jesus Christ. (1 Corinthians 1:7; 1 Corinthians 16:22; Philippians 3:20; 1 Thessalonians 1:10; Titus 2:13; 1 Peter 1:13; Jude 1:21) As there is nothing needed before the rapture of the Church it is an event that could happen at any moment. This is in contrast to the second coming of Jesus that has many events that must take place first during the Great Tribulation. (Revelation 4-18)

The Apostle Paul in his words to the Roman Church is a strong implication that the rapture could happen momentarily. (Romans 13:11-12) Paul’s use of the word salvation in the context of these verses must be eschatological, as Paul is describing a specific event of the future. Each day the Christian is that much closer to being caught up with the Lord in the clouds. James also gives us a strong implication that the rapture is near. “Therefore be patient, brethren, until the coming of the Lord. The farmer waits for the precious produce of the soil, being patient about it, until it gets the early and late rains. You too be patient; strengthen your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is near. Do not complain, brethren, against one another, so that you yourselves may not be judged; behold, the Judge is standing right at the door.” (James 5:7-9)

In the book of Revelation it is clear that there will be believers in Jesus Christ during the Great Tribulation. (Revelation 6:9-11) These are the ones who become believers after the Great Tribulation has come. It could be the witness of so many millions of believers who have vanished when caught up with Christ. They could have become believers because of the testimony of the 144,000 Jewish evangelist we see in Revelation chapter 7.They too will have their eyes opened to the Gospel of Jesus after the Great Tribulation begins. Also, they could become believers as a result of the two witnesses of Revelation chapter 11, two prophets that have the same power of Moses and Elijah. Still there will be some Christian literature left behind and many could come to the faith by reading these books.

When this moment comes for the Church of Jesus it will have an astonishing effect upon those who are caught up. It is the moment that the glorified holy Son of God steps through the door of Heaven is an impressing motivation for the Christian to live in holiness. It is the motivation for the Christian to be involved in aggressive ministry of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. This includes being ready to give testimony of what the Lord has done. “But sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence.” (1 Peter 3:15) This means we should be involved in missions, evangelism and Bible teaching. The Christian is always to be ready to testify on behalf of our Lord Jesus Christ. “Preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort, with great patience and instruction.” (2 Timothy 4:2)

There are three views on the rapture of the Church that we will take a short moment to look at. Fist I will say that I am a pretribulation believer. But there are other views that Christians hold and I will not argue against any of them. These views are pre-tribulation, post-tribulation, and mid-tribulation.

The post-tribulation is the view that Christ will rapture the Church after the Great Tribulation at the second coming of Christ. The Church then will go through the tribulation period of God’s judgment and wrath found in the book of Revelation. The believers will be kept from Satan’s wrath during this time. (Revelation 3:10) As a pre-tribulation believer Revelation 3:10 indicates that believers are saved out of or separated from the Great Tribulation.

The post-tribulation believers say that Revelation 20:4-6 states that all believers will be resurrected at the end of the tribulation period. But the pre-tribulation believers say that only those who are saved during the Great Tribulation period and die will be resurrected at the end of the Great Tribulation. The believers prior to the tribulation will be resurrected at the rapture of the Church. (1 Thessalonians 4:13-17)

Mid-tribulation is the view that the Church will be raptured in the middle of the Great Tribulation. This view is based upon the two witnesses of Revelation chapter 11 that after they are resurrected they are caught up and this is representative of the Church. “But after the three and a half days, the breath of life from God came into them, and they stood on their feet; and great fear fell upon those who were watching them. And they heard a loud voice from heaven saying to them, “Come up here.” Then they went up into heaven in the cloud, and their enemies watched them.” (Revelation 11:11-12) It is true that they remained slain for three and a half days, which represents the midpoint of the tribulation and then caught up. But in the context in the verses the witnesses do not represent the Church.

The Mid-tribulation folks believe that the Church will be delivered from the wrath of God which they say comes in the second half of the Great Tribulation. “For God has not destined us for wrath, but for obtaining salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ.” (1 Thessalonians 5:9) If Christ would allowed His Bride to suffer part of the tribulation, then why not the whole. There will be God’s wrath through the whole of the seven year period. “A day of wrath is that day, A day of trouble and distress, A day of destruction and desolation, A day of darkness and gloom, A day of clouds and thick darkness. Neither their silver nor their gold Will be able to deliver them On the day of the LORD’s wrath; And all the earth will be devoured In the fire of His jealousy, For He will make a complete end, Indeed a terrifying one, Of all the inhabitants of the earth.” (Zephaniah 1:15, 18) Also see (1 Thessalonians 1:10; Revelation 6:17; Revelation 14:7, 10; Revelation 19:2) It is easier to believe that the Church will be delivered from the whole tribulation period. “Because you have kept the word of My perseverance, I also will keep you from the hour of testing, that hour which is about to come upon the whole world, to test those who dwell on the earth.” (Revelation 3:10)

The seven seals are a sequence and all coming from the same source, God. (Revelation 6; 8) These seals are divine judgments that increase with intensity as they progress. During the first six seals humans and their warfare are instruments used by God to bring His wrath upon mankind. Those who are on the earth at this time, those that are unsaved, recognize this as the “wrath of the Lamb.” “Then the kings of the earth and the great men and the commanders and the rich and the strong and every slave and free man hid themselves in the caves and among the rocks of the mountains; and they said to the mountains and to the rocks, “Fall on us and hide us from the presence of Him who sits on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb.” (Revelation 6:15-16) As it is the Lamb of God who opens each seal. (Revelation 6:1, 3, 5, 7, 9, 12, Revelation 8:1) All of these seals of wrath are opened in the first half of the Great Tribulation and not towards the end. Jesus is faithful and true and therefore Revelation 3:10 means the Church will not suffer the Tribulation.

The Pre-tribulation view of the Rapture of the Church is the most consistent with Biblical prophecy. “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 and remain will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we shall always be with the Lord. Therefore comfort one another with these words.” (1 Thessalonians 4:16-18)

Thomas N Kirkpatrick

First Baptist Church of Durant, July 20, 2017

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