WHAT IS WRONG WITH THE TEACHING OF THE PRE-TRIBULATION RAPTURE
WHAT IS WRONG WITH THE TEACHING OF THE PRE-TRIBULATION RAPTURE Copyright Š 2006 Trumpet Ministries, Inc. All Rights Reserved
Some Scripture (as noted) taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. Copyright Š 973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Bible Publishers.
In numerous Christian churches the main preaching has to do with unconditional grace and the pre-tribulation rapture. In our point of view these two doctrine are major heresies and have produced morally weak, silly believers who are in no manner prepared to return with Christ and govern the saved nations of the earth.
We must return to the preaching of the Gospel of the Kingdom of God. We must begin to make disciples of all nations by teaching them to keep the commandments of Christ and His Apostles. This is the Great Commission.
WHAT IS WRONG WITH THE TEACHING OF THE PRE-TRIBULATION RAPTURE
My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one. (John 17:15—NIV)
I understand what I have to say will provoke consternation, anger, and perhaps confusion, and so I do not take computer in hand lightly on this topic.
For many years I have written concerning the pre-tribulation rapture error. I have examined the arguments concerning it and its history. I have seen its effect on the believers. I have found the arguments supporting it to be contrived and unsound scripturally. The pre-tribulation rapture doctrine, with its teaching that the catching up of the saints is for the purpose of avoiding tribulation, from my point of view is not logical, given the fact that Christians have suffered terribly throughout the Church Era and yet today are being tortured and killed. Also, once we have been resurrected there is no need to flee into the spirit realm to avoid being hurt.
We Christians claim to believe in the full verbal inspiration of the authentic Hebrew and Greek manuscripts. Yet we persist in teaching that the Lord is coming to "catch up His waiting bride to Heaven." Not only is such a concept not emphasized in the Bible, it is not presented one time. Neither is there any passage that states clearly the believers will be removed from the earth to avoid suffering. Not one passage!
A pastor said recently that the "rapture" doctrine is demonic in origin, its purpose being to promote complacency among the believers. Can he be correct? There is no question that the doctrine promotes complacency. If you don’t believe this try warning the believers to prepare themselves to stand in the evil day. They will tell you in effect that there will be no evil day for them because they "won’t be here." They may also become angry.
How unscriptural can you get?
I notice that when the doctrine of the "rapture" is challenged its advocates often become threatened and angry instead of reasonable, causing me to believe some kind of spirit is involved.
An incident happened yesterday that kindled the old fires. Our youth pastor told me of a young man, a teenager in fact, who recently attended a young people’s meeting. The pastor supervising the meeting sat down next to him and asked him if he believed in the "rapture." I guess the pastor could sense there was something "wrong" with the young fellow.
The young man, having heard some teaching to the contrary, said he was unsure.
The pastor then opened his Bible and began to "prove" the truth of the pre-tribulation rapture.
I become angry when anyone tries to indoctrinate young people. I am as bad as the proponents of the "rapture," in this respect. I had best continue to be reasonable.
"Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You travel over land and sea to win a single convert, and when he becomes one, you make him twice as much a son of hell as you are." (Matthew 23:15—NIV)
Of all the exhortations the pastor could have given a young person, such as the necessity for moral purity, honesty, truthfulness, faithfulness, kindness, courtesy, respect for authority, teachableness, the value of diligence, initiative, and hard work, even a readiness to test the spirits of a meeting if the pastor wished to get into spiritual matters, instead he brought up this miserable, decaying aspect of Dispensationalism. (You can tell from my words that I am not favorably disposed toward the doctrine and also am somewhat emotionally involved.)
This is the problem with Christian teaching today. Instead of instructing the believers to keep the commandments of Christ so they may present to the unsaved community the light of good works, of righteous behavior, of integrity, of a morally pure life, we talk about that which is absolutely useless in meeting the needs of God and man: grace as an excuse for lawlessness, the pre-tribulation "rapture" of the believers to avoid suffering, how to get rich by faith, how to control the universe by imaging and positive thinking, how to get into politics so we can force the unsaved to keep the moral laws of God when we ourselves are not being conformed to the image of Christ, and now how to cast aside one’s good judgment and be ready to jerk, twitch, fall in a swoon, and bark like a dog in the assembly.
Things are going to the dogs in more ways than one.
What doctrine or experience will be next? Hard to say. But you can be sure its effect will be to divert the thinking of the believers away from the need for iron righteousness and integrity, fiery holiness, and stern obedience to the Father.
Perhaps the most destructive of the current heresies is the presentation of Divine grace as a substitute for godly behavior.
Perhaps the second most destructive of the current heresies is the teaching that God is just about to carry the believers to Heaven so they can escape Antichrist and the great tribulation.
I was so upset about the pastor trying to make a proselyte of the young man that when I got home last night I asked the Lord what He thought of the pre-tribulation rapture doctrine and what I should do about it if anything.
I expected to hear that I was to forget it and preach the wealth of good things the Lord has revealed to me, such as the meaning of the feasts of the Lord, the creation of the Body of Christ as the Servant of the Lord, and the work of restoration.
Why advertise the Devil’s work?
I was quite surprised to find that the Lord was as upset as I. In addition, when I got out of bed I found I was burdened to write another article even though I have editing work piled up.
Now, I do not expect you to say "It must be true because the Lord told him." No doubt I have produced scorn in many readers to this point.
No problem! But I will tell you that after having been deceived on a couple of occasions I pray every day several times that I will hear nothing or think nothing that is not coming from the throne of God in the name of the Lord Jesus.
Do you do that? Very useful these days because of the prevailing deceptions I have mentioned previously.
If you think you can’t be deceived you already are deceived. I learned this the hard way.
It is interesting to note that some pastors have "preparing for the rapture" meetings in which the believers jump up and down next to their pews. This would be funny if the results were not so destructive. A far better exercise during such a meeting would be learning to forgive those who have offended us. Can you agree with this?
Have you seen the pictures of the cars crashing into each other because the believers have suddenly disappeared? This is totally unscriptural and crazy.
Did you know there is not one Scripture in the whole Bible that teaches Christ is coming to take His waiting bride to Heaven? Not one Scripture!
Why don’t you pray and ask the Lord, just as I did. Do you hear from the Lord?
If you do you will find that the Lord will never talk to you about a pre-tribulation rapture to escape suffering.
Have you ever heard anyone prophesy about the pre-tribulation rapture? No, you haven’t, and you never will. Why? Because it is not a burden of the spirit realm, it is a mental concept, a part of the destructive model of scriptural interpretation termed Dispensationalism.
What is the Lord talking about these days? The Lord is talking about judgment on America if His people do not start keeping His commandments. He is telling us to get our house in order so we may be able to stand in the age of moral horrors that is upon us. He is advising us to lay up the good corn of His Word because we cannot fight our way into the land of promise while eating manna.
He is urging us to prepare our young people because an unprecedented anointing is going to come upon them so they can bear witness of Christ throughout the whole world.
He is telling us to be prepared for the greatest revival of all history as the Gospel of the Kingdom of God is preached for a witness to every nation.
He is telling us to work with the Holy Spirit as our worldliness, passions, and self-will are driven from us to prepare a place for the Father and the Son to inhabit.
He is commanding us to present our body a living sacrifice so we may learn to use the gifts and ministries He has placed within us.
He is telling us He has kept the good wine until now, that it is time to get ready for the coming of the Kingdom of God to the earth.
He is exhorting us to grow in the unity of faith toward God and in the knowledge of God’s ways, to be discipled by the written Word.
He is warning us to test the spirits because much deception already has entered the ranks of Christian believers.
He is telling us to look to our families that the hearts of the children may be turned toward their parents and the parents toward their children.
If you will pray and listen (God is not that far away from you), these are the things you will hear.
You will never, never, never hear the Lord tell you that you are about to get caught up to Heaven so you may not experience the tremendous opportunities of the last days. The pastor or evangelist may tell you this but the Spirit of the Lord will not because it is not true.
People write and tell me all they are hearing in the churches is rapture, rapture, rapture, grace, grace, grace.
We who are called to teach have been commanded to make disciples of all nations. We make disciples by teaching them the Lord’s commandments so they may grow in the unity of the faith and the knowledge of the Son of God, and then be able to disciple others. Am I correct in this? Is this what the Lord commanded?
As we grow in the unity of the faith and the knowledge of the Son of God we fulfill the need of God for an abode and the need of mankind for a true and faithful witness of God in the present hour (people are in desperate need today!) and for righteous rulers and priests in the ages to come so the people of the saved nations may live in love, joy, peace, and security.
Are you with me this far?
Now think! If rapture, rapture, rapture, grace, grace, grace are being preached, will this message fulfill the need that God has for a house and mankind has for a witness and for righteous government? Not on your grandmother’s apple pie. It will only create self-centered religionists who have little or no feeling for the woes of the people around them, who are unable to teach people the path of life, of righteous behavior.
Also, the doctrine of the rapture of the Gentile believers (absolutely contrary to Paul’s teaching of the one Seed of Abraham) is anti-Semitic. Think about it!
Jan Willem Vanderhoven’s late wife Wida (International Christian Embassy, Jerusalem), now with Jesus, was heard to say that if the Jews were to be left here after the rapture she desired to stay with them. Wida was an Arab by race. This is true Christian sentiment, not the childish remarks we are apt to hear.
Will the saints actually be caught up to meet Jesus in the air? Of course they will. This is what the Scripture teaches. If we would stick with the Scripture we would be on sound ground (and also in the air some day).
What then is the problem?
Is it the timing? No. What is going to happen will happen and we will be one hundred percent accurate after it is over. Right?
The problem is, God has a program and the concept of an imminent "rapture" diverts our attention from the Divine schedule and its goals.
First of all, let us mention that the climax of redemption is the resurrection, not the catching up (rapture). The catching up is not a part of redemption and therefore not portrayed by the major types of the Old Testament. Did you know that?
No feast of the Lord was celebrated forty days after the resurrection, the day when Christ was caught up to be with the Father. But ten days after that the feast of Pentecost was fulfilled as Christ sent down the Holy Spirit from Heaven.
The first resurrection from the dead, the resurrection that will take place when the Lord appears, must be attained. The Apostle Paul was striving to attain the out-resurrection, the first resurrection, and this toward the end of his life. We will not participate in the out-resurrection just because we took the four steps of salvation.
One of the major problems of today’s Christian thinking is the ignorance of the nature of the resurrection—what is required if we are to be raised into incorruptible life when the Lord appears. The emphasis and reemphasis on the catching up has so confused the believers they have little or no understanding of the resurrection, supposing that somehow the catching up and the resurrection are the same thing. This is a gross error having profoundly destructive consequences.
If you think Christian people understand the resurrection, its relationship to the catching up, just ask some of them. Ask them also what John said in the sixth chapter of his Gospel, the Apostle Paul said in the eighth chapter of the Book of Romans, and also in the third chapter of Philippians, about what is necessary if we are to attain resurrection life. Most of them will have no idea what you are referring to supposing they will be resurrected and caught up "by grace."
Yet these three passages contain information that is absolutely critical to our destiny. This ignorance stems from the fact that we are preaching sermons to members of the Christian religion instead of teaching disciples.
Satan understands well the significance of the first resurrection and of the coming of Christ with His saints to take charge of the nations of the earth. By focusing the attention of the believers on being caught up into the air (in their business suits and party dresses) Satan hopes to keep them silly and immature so they will give no thought to returning with Christ to destroy Satan’s kingdom. This is what Satan is after with his grace, grace, grace, rapture, rapture, rapture emphasis.
How would you like to go through the New Testament and find the passage that says the believers will disappear and be caught up to Heaven to avoid Antichrist and the great tribulation? You will look in vain. There is no such passage, no not one.
But what about First Thessalonians, Chapter Four? This so-called "rapture" passage has nothing to do with the believers disappearing or being caught up to Heaven to live in a mansion. Rather it is a message of comfort and hope addressed to those whose loved ones have passed away. It is the premier funeral passage of the Scriptures.
The big gun is the fifteenth chapter of First Corinthians, the "resurrection chapter." This chapter does not mention the catching up because the catching up is not part of the resurrection.
The resurrection has to do with the reviving of our deceased flesh and bones and the clothing of them with our house from Heaven. This is the omega of redemption, the climax, the destruction of the last enemy.
Do you understand the relationship between the nature of your house from Heaven and your conduct today? Very important to understand!
After we are resurrected (how long after we do not know, in the case of Christ it was forty days) we will be caught up to meet the Commander in Chief in the air so we may return with Him to Jerusalem. Then Armageddon will be fought and Jesus Christ will be crowned King of all kings on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem.
From there the saints will go forth throughout the earth to restore "the desolations of many generations."
Did you know this was in the Bible? Did you know your destiny as one of God’s elect is written in the Prophets of Israel? The Prophets did not address their own generation as much as they did ours. That which is written concerning the sufferings of Christ and the glory that shall follow is directed toward us on whom the ends of the age have come. Hallelujah!
Isn’t this really a more marvelous message than the idea of being caught up to Heaven so we can read the comic strips in our mansion on Sunday morning?
Do you have that God-given passion to grow spiritually?
We mentioned God’s program and His goals and that the concept of a pre-tribulation rapture is a massive diversionary tactic of the enemy.
The program of salvation, both personal and kingdom-wide, is outlined in the four great types of the Old Testament. The four great types are:
The seven days of creation.
The seven stages of the wandering of Israel from Egypt to Canaan.
The seven furnishings of the Tabernacle of the Congregation.
The seven feasts of the Lord.
Let's take the seven feasts of the Lord. These are our favorite of the four types, the one we employ most frequently. They may be found in the twenty-third chapter of the Book of Leviticus.
Passover speaks of our being covered with the blood of the Lamb.
Unleavened Bread indicates our repentance and water baptism.
Firstfruits portrays the born-again experience.
Pentecost stands for the baptism with the Holy Spirit.
Trumpets refers to the coming of Christ to wage war against His enemies in us and also the disciplining of us as a soldier in His army.
The Day of Atonement symbolizes the forgiveness and removal of all worldliness, lust, and self-seeking from our personality.
Tabernacles typifies the coming of the Father and the Son through the fullness of the Holy Spirit to make Their eternal home in us.
There are two great goals of the plan of redemption. One is that we have formed in us the Character of Christ, the iron righteousness and integrity, the fiery holiness, and the stern obedience to the Father, all the fruit of the Spirit, and the courage, meekness, and happiness that characterize the Son of God.
The second of the great goals of the plan of redemption is our entering untroubled rest in the bosom of the Father through Christ such that we always are rest in God and He in us. We are becoming the chariot, the temple, the eternal throne of God.
The attainment of these two goals will meet two great needs. The two great needs are God’s desire for a living temple from which He can guide His creation, and the need of mankind for righteous government.
We are destined finally to be in the outer image of the Son of God, as portrayed in the first chapter of the Book of Ezekiel, and in the inner image of the Son of God, as portrayed by the symbolism of Ezekiel’s temple.
Now, where are we?
We are saying these are grand purposes accomplished by a grand, Divinely conceived and operated program of redemption.
Can you seen now how the repeated emphasis on grace, grace, grace, rapture, rapture, rapture is leading the believer away from God’s plan and God’s goal?
Do not stagger at the greatness of God’s goals for you and you yet will sit on the throne with Jesus Christ.
We are washed in the blood. We are filled with the Spirit. These compose the authority and the wisdom and power to enter the Kingdom, the Kingdom being as we have mentioned above.
What comes next? Not a silly rapture, of that you can be sure.
After Pentecost comes the Blowing of Trumpets. In our day we can look for an emphasis on war and judgment, on becoming a soldier in the army of the Lord.
Following closely is the Day of Atonement. By now you should be entering the work of the Holy Spirit as He brings to the surface the wickedness of your personality and is helping you confess these things and get delivered from them. This is a work of reconciliation to the Father. We have been reconciled legally through the blood of the cross. Now we are being reconciled in actuality as we learn righteousness, holiness, and stern obedience to the Father.
Our heart even after we are saved is desperately wicked, not just wicked but desperately wicked. Have you noticed that? The Lord Jesus is ready today to remove that wickedness from your heart.
As we "come out from among them" and purge ourselves of all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God, we are received of God and become His sons and daughters.
The final experience in the Divine redemption is the coming of God to dwell in us, we having by this time a resurrected body clothed with the Divine Glory that has been stored up in Heaven for us as we have sown our present physical body to the death of the cross.
Before we can receive the fullness of the Tabernacles experience, Christ must be formed in us. Christ is formed in us as we patiently follow Jesus every day, overcoming the evil of the day with the grace given to us. Each day has its portion of evil. Each day has its portion of grace by which we can overcome the evil.
As we overcome we are given to eat of the Tree of Life, that is, of the body and blood of Jesus Christ. As we eat the flesh of Christ and drink His blood, Christ is formed in us. It is the temple, the chariot of God that is being formed in us.
A nation shall be born at once. Whatever else Isaiah is referring to, the fact is the Christian Church is in travail today to bring forth Christ in the believers. The royal priesthood, the holy nation, will suddenly appear for all to see. Christ is the One who will govern all nations with the rod of iron. Christ is the One who will rule with the scepter of righteousness. Christ is the One in whom dwells the Fullness of the Father.
All of these roles, privileges, and opportunities become ours only as Christ is formed in us! The adamic man receives nothing but the cross. Flesh and blood cannot inherit the Kingdom of God.
Any teaching that does not stress war against God’s enemies, the disciplining of the soldiers of the army of the Lord, the purifying of our personality, the forming of Christ in us, the coming of the Father and the Son to dwell in us forever, is not in keeping with the present burden of the Spirit.
Can you see now how utterly distracting and devastating is the repeated emphasis on untransformed believers being caught up in their business suits, overalls, and party dresses to fly away to live in a mansion in Heaven? Can you see why it would be in Satan’s interests to propagate such unscriptural mythology?
The believers want to be with Jesus. This is good. The believers want to be in Paradise. This also is good and is of God. It is no wonder that the believers rejoice at the thought that any moment their troubles will be over and they will find themselves with Jesus in Paradise.
But this is not what the Bible teaches.
When I had my heart attack I was rushed to the hospital. A young doctor assured me it was not a heart attack but acid reflux (come to find out I had that also). However, an orderly (without the doctor’s knowledge) had ordered the standard tests.
The doctor was comforting me with the thought that with proper diet and rest I would be fine. He smiled at me cheerfully, a very pleasant, amiable young fellow.
But the orderly, an older employee, came back with the news that the test showed I indeed had suffered a heart attack and some damage already had occurred.
The young doctor was chagrined and embarrassed, as you might imagine.
I immediately was assigned a room in the cardiac ward. I have been in other wards in the same hospital for other reasons and I am here to tell you that the food in the cardiac ward is the worst. It is terrible! It is like they are trying to remedy all your dietary peccadilloes in one week.
The point is, the young doctor’s intentions were of the best. A more likable, helpful person could not be found. But the orderly knew the rules, the guidelines established by untold years of hospital experience. The young doctor was dead wrong and I could have died from his good intentions.
Do you see the point? I could have said, "Let me out of here. The food is awful. The doctor said it was reflux and I can take care of that at home."
If I had done that I would not be distressing you at the present time with this article.
It is my sincere belief that the teaching of the pre-tribulation, any-moment "rapture" of all believers in Jesus Christ, no matter how pleasantly presented, is one of the most destructive of the heresies that has at any time entered Christian thinking. I base this on the knowledge of the Scriptures I have (after fifty-two years of study), on the application of contextual and lexical principles of interpretation, on the basis of logic, on the basis of historical fact, in the light of the types of the Old Testament, in view of the plan and goals of redemption, and on my observation of the effect of the doctrine on Christians.
What is the Spirit of God saying? Get on your knees and ask Him.
Your commentaries will not help you as much as the Spirit of the Lord will. The Greek text will reveal to you that the parousia, the only term used for "coming" in First and Second Thessalonians, will take place "after the tribulation of those days," according to the twenty-fourth chapter of the Book of Matthew.
The Lord is near you. Ask Him what His will is for you right now. I do not think you will hear Him saying you are about to be caught up by grace to Heaven to live in a mansion so don’t worry about a thing. More than likely He will tell you to prepare yourself and your family for the coming of the Kingdom of God to the earth.
Ask Him and see for yourself. The Scripture teaches of the coming of the Kingdom of God to the earth and the Spirit always agrees with the Word of God.
The Lord bless you as you sail out into new waters. Don’t be afraid, the waters may be new to you but they have been charted by the true saints from the time of the righteous Abel.