Pre-Tribulation or
Post-Tribulation Rapture?

Scripture presents five definite indications supporting the pre-tribulation rapture:

1. In the first three chapters of Revelation the Church is mentioned nineteen times as being on earth. However, from Revelation chapters 4 to 19, which begins to describe in great detail the Great Tribulation, there is not one mention of the Church on the earth.

The Church is described during this period as participating in the Marriage Supper of the Lamb and at the "bema" judgment seat before Christ in Heaven. An interesting point is that Revelation 6:17 and 7:1-8 prophesies that before the great day of God's wrath comes the angels are told to hold back their judgment "till we have sealed the servants of our God on their foreheads" (verse 3). The prophet then describes that the angels "sealed an hundred and forty and four thousand of all the tribes of the children of Israel" (verse 4). The passage then describes that 12,000 from each of the named tribes of Israel are sealed for divine protection. This description of the sealing of the servants of God exclusively from the 12 tribes of Israel, before the wrath of God is unleashed in the Great Tribulation, would strongly indicate that the Church is not mentioned because it is already safely in Heaven at this time.

2. Revelation 4 tells us that when John was "in the Spirit" and was "raptured" up to Heaven to stand before the throne of Heaven, he saw twenty-four elders with crowns on their heads. But Paul, in 2 Timothy 4:8, says that "henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing." Second Corinthians 5:10 tells of that day when "we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad."

Therefore, as the twenty-four elders represent the Church and already have their crowns in his prophetic vision, then John has been taken to a time just after the Rapture and sees the rewarding of crowns to the raptured Christians at the judgment seat. After he witnesses the Rapture to Heaven, he then sees the sequential series of judgments of the Great Tribulation occurring upon the earth.

3. Matthew 24 describes the events of the Tribulation and focuses on Israel, not the Church. Jesus says that those in Judea should flee to the hills (verse 16). Matthew records that the Jews should pray that it does not occur on the Sabbath (verse 20). The reason for this is that, after the Temple is rebuilt, the rabbinical restriction of a "sabbath day's journey" will again be in effect.

The rabbinical requirement (an interpretation of God's instruction in Exodus 16:29 forbidding "work" on the Sabbath) prohibited a Jew from walking (or fleeing) more than two thousand cubits from where he finds himself at the beginning of the Sabbath day. Obviously, these Jewish restrictions have no meaning for a Christian who is not under law. Jesus was referring to the Jews during the Tribulation, not the Church.

4. Paul tells the Thessalonians that "God hath not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ" (1 Thessalonians 5:9). Then verse 11 advises us to "comfort yourselves together, and edify one another, even as also ye do" because of this fact. In what manner would we comfort each other if our only hope is to endure through 7 years of God's wrath? Notice that Paul contrast two separate and opposite destinies. He reminds the Church that its destiny is the Lord's salvation and that the Church has not been appointed by God to the wrath of the Great Tribulation.

5. One of the strongest proofs that the Rapture will precede the revealing of the man of lawlessness, the Antichrist, is found in 2 Thessalonians 2:1-9. The church at Thessalonica was confused and they felt apprehensive that the great Day of the Lord could occur at any moment. Paul appeals to their memory of his teaching about "the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and by our gathering together unto him" (verse 1), and tells them not to be troubled by the incorrect teaching that Armageddon awaits the Church. He very specifically points out: "That day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition" (verse 3).

This "revealing" of the Antichrist does not occur when he is born, nor probably even when he makes a seven-year treaty with Israel (see Daniel 9:27). He will be "revealed" in his satanic nature when he seats himself in the rebuilt Temple in Jerusalem, claiming to be God and demanding worship as God. It is this act which reveals his satanic character as Antichrist and confirms that he has been totally possessed by Satan.

Paul also says that the man of sin (or lawlessness) will only be revealed "in his [appointed] time" (verse 6). He clearly indicates that there is an individual who, by his supernatural power, hinders or restrains the Antichrist "until he be taken out of the way" (verse 7) "And then shall that Wicked be revealed,..even him, whose coming is after the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders" (verse 8).

Several suggestions have been offered by scholars as to the identity of the supernatural power of whom Paul says, "The one who now holds it back will continue to do so till he is taken out of the way" (2 Thessalonians 2:7, NIV). Some have thought the restrainer of the Antichrist is human government, but that suggestion is disproved by the fact that governments or kingdoms will continue after the Antichrist is revealed (see Revelation 13:7), and the fact that the singular personal pronoun "he" is used. Others have suggested that the Church is the "he"; however, nowhere else is the Church addressed as "he", nor does the Church have any power except that which God manifests through it. The "He" whom Paul says is holding back "the man of sin" is none other than the Holy Spirit.

Prior to Christ ascending to Heaven, He promised His disciples that the Holy Spirit would come to empower the Church and He would never leave it. In John 14:16-17, Jesus promised that the Holy Spirit would abide in His Church forever in His role as the Counselor, the Antichrist will not be able to be revealed. John 16:8-11 makes it clear that the Holy Spirit is He that restrains the Antichrist: "And when he is come, he will reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment: of sin, because they believe not on me; of righteousness, because I go to my Father, and ye see me no more; of judgment, because the prince of this world is judged".

Since we have been assured by Jesus that the father "shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever" (John 14:16), it is probable that when the Holy Spirit removes Himself as the restrainer of the Antichrist; it is because the time has come when the Church (the Bride of Christ) has alreay been raptured and is now in heaven at the Marriage Supper of the Lamb.

It is worthwhile to remember that the Holy Spirit, as part of the Trinity, will continue to act throughout earth and heaven as He acted in Old Testament times prior to His coming at Pentecost. It is only in His role or office as the Comforter of the Church and the restrainer of the Antichrist that He will remove Himself. The third Person of the Trinity was, is now, and always will be omnipresent.

The day is coming, though it is known only God Himself, when he will call every Christian, living and dead, to meet Him in the air and return home to Heaven to the great Marriage Supper of the Lamb. Since it is imminent, it could happen without warning at any moment. All we know about its timing is that it has not occurred yet, and that it will occur before the seven year Great Tribulation begins.

The Father tells the Church "to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead, even Jesus, which delivered us from the wrath to come" (1 Thessalonians 1:10).

Post-Tribulationism: Why is it false?

Post-tribualtionism is the belief hat the rapture will not occur until the end of the tribulation. However, it is refuted by 1 Thessalonians 5:9 and Revelation 3:10

The New Testament pictures the Church as the body and bride of Christ. If the mid-tribulation or post-tribulation view were correct, then a part of this body would suffer amputation, and a section of the bride would be left behind. In addition to this, one would be forced to conclude that all bodies of carnal departed Christians would likewise be left in the grave. This simply is not the clear teaching of the Word of God.

The Bible teaches that the rapture is pre-tribulational in nature and includes all believers. See Romans 5:9 and 1 Thessalonians 1:10. Perhaps the strongest proof of this statement is the fact that up to chapter 6 of Revelation the church is mentioned many times, but from chapter 6 to chapter 19 (the period of the tribulation) there is no mention whatsoever of the church on earth. In fact, the only godly group which Satan can find to persecute is the nation Israel! See Revelation chapter 12.

In Revelation 4:1 John declares, "After this I looked, and, behold, a door was opened in heaven: and the first voice which I heard was as it were of a trumpet talking with me; which said, Come up hither..." We are told that Christians are God's ambassadors on earth (2 Cor. 5:20) and that he will someday declare war on this earth. The first thing a king or president does after he declares war on another country is to call his ambassadors home! Thus we conclude that the church will escape the tribulation.

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