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RAPTURE TIMING

  1. INTRODUCTION

    Is it really important what position Christians hold on the timing of the “Rapture”? Some Christians think that the timing of the “Rapture” is doctrinally unimportant. Other Christians believe that the Rapture “timing issue” is extremely important.

    For those unfamiliar with the “Rapture debate”, the Pre-Trib’ers believe that the Lord Jesus Christ is going to “rapture” His church OFF OF planet Earth BEFORE the “Great Tribulation” begins. Post-Trib’ers believe that “the Church” is here on planet Earth DURING the “Great Tribulation”, and will be facing the Antichrist and his murderous hordes. The Post-Trib’ers believe that the Lord Jesus Christ will return at the END of the “Great Tribulation”.

    The writer of this newsletter USED to believe in the Pre-Trib view. It is certainly the view that sells the most prophecy books. In fact, the Pre-Trib Rapture has been a fantastically big “cash cow” for a number of well-known prophecy writers.

    It is important to note here that this editor believes that “the Antichrist” (in the form of a particular religious system) was revealed centuries ago, but that subject shall, God willing, be the topic of a separate ETI newsletter in the future. ((And “NO!” – I do not believe in the “Preterist View”, or that “the Antichrist” was Emperor Nero or any other particular single “nasty guy” in history.)) And though it is my strong belief that “the Antichrist” has already been revealed (which I believe can be strongly backed up with both Scriptural and historical evidence), I still believe that “the Church” will go through the entire tribulation period (i.e., the “Great Tribulation”). [note: Liberty To The Captives does not believe “that wicked” has been revealed yet.]Numerous Christians – including the best Bible scholars – held this belief that “the Church” would go through the “Great Tribulation” (i.e., the “Post-Trib” view) for many centuries until “Dispensationalism” hit the streets back in the 1800s! ((More on the subject of “Dispensationalism” will follow later.))

    II. INDIVIDUAL VIEWS ON THE TIMING OF THE RAPTURE

    I personally do NOT know of, nor have heard of, any individuals who held the Post-Trib view for many years, and then subsequently CHANGED to the Pre-Trib view after much Bible study of that topic and/or after much prayer. NOR have I read about any Post-Trib’ers doing that. However, I personally do know a fair number of individuals who had held the Pre-Trib view for many years, and then who later SWITCHED to the Post-Trib view after much Bible study of that topic and/or after much prayer.

    Examples of some men who SWITCHED from the Pre-Trib Rapture view to the Post-Trib Rapture view after heavy-duty Bible study on that prophetic topic, and/or after much prayer, and in at least one case, after a long fast, include:

    1) G. Campbell Morgan, who was considered by some of his time as the greatest Christian scholar of his era, had taught the Pre-Trib Rapture view for many years. After subsequent deep study of the Holy Bible to discern the timing of the “Rapture”, he CHANGED his view to Post-Trib. He felt so badly about having previously taught the Pre-Trib view, and about having written a book supporting the Pre-Trib view, that he purchased the plates to the book and destroyed them!

    2) Pastor Dwight Kinman, author of the outstanding book The World’s Last Dictator, had taught the Pre-Trib Rapture view for almost 40 years. After carefully searching the Scriptures to discern the timing of the “Rapture”, he CHANGED his view to Post-Trib (and began to publicly teach Post-Trib). His above-mentioned book promotes the Post-Trib Rapture view.
    3) Jim Spillman (author, pastor, evangelist, and Bible scholar), who at one time pastored a very large church in California, had taught the Pre-Trib Rapture view for many years. After going into his prayer closet for several days, where he studied ONLY the Holy Bible in order to discern the timing of the “Rapture”, he came to the conclusion that the Holy Bible clearly teaches the Post-Trib view. He then had the COURAGE to go before his large congregation and ADMIT to them that he had been teaching them FALSE doctrine (i.e., the Pre-Trib view) for all those previous years! ((That takes a lot of GUTS!))

    4) Pastor Butch Paugh (author, and host of “Call to Decision” broadcast; and a good friend of mine) had believed in and had taught the Pre-Trib Rapture view for years. Yet it was Bible study that convinced him that the Pre-Trib view is FALSE doctrine. He now teaches the Post-Trib view over the “airwaves”, as well as to his local congregation. ((His excellent Internet web site is: www.calltodecision.com . Pastor Butch Paugh has several audiocassette tape sets dealing with the “rapture” issue that are available through his ministry. You can call toll-free 800-777-4403 for information, and to order those items.))

    5) Pastor David Lankford (author and broadcast host) also had believed in and had taught the Pre-Trib Rapture view for many years. As the back cover of his excellent book, The Second Coming: A Second Look, states: “After weeks of fasting and prayer and diligent study of Scripture, Pastor Lankford’s long-held beliefs about The Second Coming were changed.” Pastor Lankford’s book, along with a two-audiocassette tape set on the topic of the Second Coming, can be obtained for $20 postpaid by calling phone number 704-263-1945, or by making check or money order in that amount payable to “The Voice of Evangelism” and mailing it to: The Voice of Evangelism // P.O. Box 669 // Alexis, NC 28006.

    6) James Lloyd [warning] (author, publisher of two periodicals, and broadcast host of “The Apocalypse Chronicles”) also had believed in the Pre-Trib Rapture view for years. Study of the Holy Bible convinced James that the Post-Trib view was the correct one! James has written an excellent book, The Rapture Cult: Dishonesty in Dispensationalism, which deals with the Bible verses supporting the Post-Trib view, and with dishonesty on the part of a number of Pre-Trib writers! [note] His book can be obtained for $5 postpaid by making check or money order payable to “Christian Media”, and mailing it to: Christian Media // P.O. Box 448 // Jacksonville, OR 97530. Christian Media also offers a number of Dave MacPherson’s books that examine the relatively recent origins (i.e., the 1830s) of the Pre-Trib Rapture doctrine. For information, call Christian Media at phone number: 541-899-8888, or write to the above address.

    ((IMPORTANT NOTE: The “Pre-Trib Rapture” is but one piece – although a critical one – of a larger “prophetic pie” that many have termed “Dispensationalism”.  Dispensationalism is a theory of Bible interpretation which holds to the notion that God deals with man in distinct periods of time, or ages. According to John Nelson Darby, we are now in the ‘Church Age’ which will culminate in a Pretribulation Rapture.

    Here are a few other good books that REFUTE the Pre-Trib Rapture view:

    ((NOTE: You may have to check the Internet or visit a good library to track down some of these books.))

    (1) The Rapture Book by Dr. James McKeever (Omega Publications);

    (2) I WANT To Be Left Behind by Pastor Ron Poch (Available through Proclaim Liberty Ministries; $12 postpaid: To order it via credit card, please call toll-free 888-820-2126);

    (3) First the Antichrist by Dr. Robert H. Gundry

    And while we are talking about good books, here is an excellent book that exposes a number of unbiblical teachings in the “Left Behind” series of books (a series of books that promote the Pre-Trib Rapture view):

    God’s Wrath on Left Behind: Exposing the Antichrist Agenda of the Left Behind Series by Lisa Ruby; 216-page paperback; 2002; ISBN 0-9721264-0-6; $14 postpaid (for mail orders): This book can be obtained by making a check or money order payable to “Liberty to the Captives Publications” and mailing it to: Lisa Ruby // 224 Reservoir Road // North Attleboro, MA 02760-2839. ((Please check out her outstanding Internet web site at www.libertytothecaptives.net .))

    Interestingly, many famous Christian men in the past believed in and taught the Post-Trib Rapture view [i.e., that the “Church” would be going THROUGH the Tribulation period]. ((NOTE: Many folks refer to this end-time tribulation period as the “Great Tribulation”.)) The long list of these famous men includes such names as Charles H. Spurgeon, John Bunyan (author of Pilgrim’s Progress), John Calvin, Charles Finney, John Knox, Martin Luther, and George Whitefield.

    Equally as interesting, NONE of these following great Christian men ever made any reference to the Pre-Trib Rapture: John Wycliffe, John Wesley, or Charles Wesley.

    Equally as interesting, there seem to be NO records of the great pastors of the American Revolution (such as Jonas Clark, John Peter Gabriel Muhlenburg, James Caldwell, etc.) making ANY reference to the Pre-Trib Rapture.

    Most interestingly, NONE of the following ever made mention in the Holy Bible to any Pre-Tribulation (or even Mid-Tribulation/Pre-Wrath) evacuation of Christians BEFORE the Antichrist appears: The Lord Jesus Christ, the Apostle Paul, the Apostle Peter, and the Apostle John! Doesn’t it seem strange that there is NOT one SINGLE verse of Scripture that states something like the following hypothetical ‘statements’?

    (1) “Verily, immediately prior to the start of the seven-year period of the ‘Great Tribulation’, the end-time Christians will be miraculously air evacuated [i.e., “raptured”] off of Planet Earth.”

    (2) “Verily, seven years before the Revelation of Jesus Christ [the supposed 2nd part of His supposed two-stage 2nd Coming], the end-time Christians will be miraculously air evacuated [i.e., “raptured”] off of Planet Earth.”

    (3) “Verily, three and one half years into the ‘Great Tribulation’, the end-time Christians will be miraculously air evacuated [i.e., “raptured”] off of Planet Earth – just prior to the beginning of God’s Wrath!”

    No, there is NOT EVEN ONE SUCH BIBLE VERSE – or one Bible verse even closely resembling those statements in the Holy Bible!

    Interestingly, John F. Walvoord, a big guru of the Pre-Trib Rapture movement and author of books promoting the Pre-Trib Rapture view, admitted that there was NOT ONE SINGLE Bible verse that by itself clearly teaches the Pre-Trib Rapture!

    III. THE HISTORICAL RECORD

    Some of the historical record (i.e., many of the great Christian men of the past who NEVER mentioned a Pre-Trib Rapture) has already been covered in several paragraphs earlier in this newsletter. It seems that the Pre-Trib Rapture view did not really seem to catch on anywhere until the 1830s. It seems to have originated in England, and then made its way over to the USA. Until that time, the prevailing view among Christians in the USA was the Post-Trib Rapture view. Dave MacPherson, in his book, The Incredible Cover-Up, traces the origins of the Pre-Trib Rapture doctrine back to the British Isles, where we find such characters as a Scottish lassie named Margaret MacDonald, Edward Irving, and John Darby. ((Dave MacPherson does a great job of showing the origins of the Pre-Trib Rapture doctrine. His above-mentioned book may still be available through Christian Media. To order materials from Christian Media, see earlier information in this newsletter.))

    This British “invention” of the Pre-Trib Rapture doctrine was later popularized in the USA by the Scofield Study Bible. It is not within the scope (i.e., limited space) of this newsletter to really get into the historical side of the Rapture debate. If the reader wishes to do more investigation into the history of the Pre-Trib doctrine, contact Christian Media for information on the three Dave MacPherson books that they have carried in the past. Also, there seems to have been some Jesuit involvement in at least some of these doctrines that we find within “Dispensationalism” – please read End Time DELUSIONS: The Rapture, the Antichrist, Israel, and the End of the World by Steve Wohlberg to trace the trail of this “theological virus”. ((You can call toll-free 866-862-6334 to order this book via credit card; or, you can visit their Internet web site at www.endtimeinsights.com . Editor of ETI most highly recommends this outstanding 220-page paperback book!))

    IV. THE BIBLICAL RECORD

    Obviously, the Holy Bible is by far the most critical record – for God’s Holy Word MUST ALWAYS BE the standard by which we measure all things! We’ve already mentioned that Pre-Trib Rapture guru John Walvoord has stated that there is NO SINGLE Scripture verse in the Bible that by itself teaches the Pre-Trib Rapture view.

    It was the daily studies of the Holy Bible (reading through the entire Bible each year) that convinced the writer of this newsletter that the Holy Bible clearly does NOT teach the Pre-Trib Rapture. Here are some of the verses of Holy Scripture that really spoke to my heart:

    1) I Thessalonians 4:15-17 (:) [The Apostle Paul writes]: “For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall NOT prevent [i.e., precede] them which are asleep. (Verse 16): For the Lord Himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise FIRST: (Verse 17): THEN we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.”

    Do the above verses really need any explanation? Aren’t they perfectly clear? The Holy Bible is saying that those Christians still alive at our Lord’s [Second] Coming do NOT PRECEDE the “dead in Christ”, who are raised [i.e., resurrected] FIRST! And it is only THEN [i.e., after the “dead in Christ” are resurrected] that those Christians “still living” are caught up “to meet the Lord in the air”! Since the Holy Bible teaches only TWO resurrections [i.e., one for the “just” and one for the “unjust”]; and since the Bible clearly teaches that the resurrection of the just is the FIRST RESURRECTION (see Revelation 20:4-6); and since the Lord Jesus Christ Himself said four times that he would raise up Christians on the “LAST DAY” (see John 6:39, 40, 44, and 54) – well then, how can anyone say that there is some “special group” of Christians that are getting “air evacuated” off of planet Earth BEFORE the first resurrection? And just HOW MANY “LAST DAYS” are there? Is there a “LAST DAY” BEFORE the “Great Tribulation” begins? Is there a “LAST DAY” 3 and ½ years into the “Great Tribulation” just prior to God’s Wrath falling on a sinful world?

    Again, it is certainly worth repeating: the Lord Jesus Christ Himself said four times that he would raise up Christians on the “LAST DAY” (see John 6:39, 40, 44, and 54)!

    It might also be interesting to note here, that when a great person in Biblical times in the Middle East area approached a city, then a large entourage of folks from that city would come out to meet that great person at some distance from the city. They would all THEN turn RIGHT AROUND and escort the great person into their city. Doesn’t that sound just like what we read in I Thessalonians 4:16, 17?

    Indeed, this first Bible passage listed here in Section IV (i.e., I Thessalonians 4:15-17) ought, one would think, be enough to “sink” the “Pre-Trib Rapture ship”. After all, those Christians remaining alive at the 2nd Coming of the Lord Jesus Christ CANNOT precede those Christians “which are asleep”.

    2) II Thessalonians 2:1-4 (:) [The Apostle Paul writes]: “Now we beseech you, brethren, by the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and by our gathering together unto Him, (Verse 2): That ye be not soon shaken in mind, or be troubled, neither by spirit, nor by word, nor by letter as from us, as that the day of Christ is at hand [i.e., near in time; not distant]. (Verse 3): Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day [i.e., the day of Christ] shall not come, EXCEPT there come a falling away [Greek: apostasia] FIRST, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition; (Verse 4): Who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, shewing himself that he is God.”

    ((NOTE: Webster’s 1828 American Dictionary of the English Language defines the term “at hand” thusly: “near; either present or within reach, or not far distant”. This outstanding dictionary then lists as an example “the day of Christ is at hand” from the above Bible passage, stating that “at hand” in this context means “near in time; not distant”.))

    Well, just about everybody agrees that this “man of sin – the son of perdition” is the Antichrist. This “day [of Christ]” (that Paul is talking about in verse 3) is shown in verse 1 to be the “coming of our Lord Jesus Christ”, and “our gathering together to Him”. The plain teaching of verse 3 is that NONE of those events take place until there first occurs both a “falling away” [i.e., apostasy] and the revealing of “that man of sin – the son of perdition”! And so, if one subscribes to the theory that “the Antichrist” is a FUTURE “Mr. Nasty-to-the- extreme” person who is to come on the scene in the very “end times”, then the above passage would clearly refute the idea that “the Church” is “air evacuated” prior to this “Mr. Nasty” person being revealed.

    At least one Pre-Trib Rapture writer has tried to “explain away” the words “first, and” in verse 3 above, saying that they don’t really mean what they say. At least one Pre-Trib writer has tried to say that the “falling away” [Greek: apostasia] is really the “Pre-Trib Rapture” (such TWISTING of Scripture and the meaning of both Greek and English words, sadly, occurs far too often amongst Pre-Trib authors). The Greek word “apostasia” is used in such contexts as a “falling away” from, for example, the “truth” – NEVER in the context of “falling away from the earth up to heaven”. ((NOTE: Webster’s New World Dictionary defines the word “apostasy” as “an abandoning of what one believed in, as a faith, political party, principles, etc.”))

    The clear meaning of verse 3 is that Christ’s return to gather up His saints cannot occur UNTIL AFTER “the Antichrist” has been revealed. Yet the Pre-Trib writers maintain that the Church is evacuated out BEFORE “the Antichrist” is revealed!

    And just in case any Pre-Trib advocates are now saying, “The poor writer of this newsletter just doesn’t understand that Christ’s Second Coming is in TWO phases: the ‘Rapture’ and the ‘Revelation’, with the ‘Rapture’ coming BEFORE the tribulation, and the ‘Revelation’ coming AFTER the tribulation.” Well, let’s address such an argument now:

    Let me ask the Pre-Trib’ers who advocate a “TWO-phased” Second Coming of Christ this: “Was Christ’s First Coming in TWO phases?” The answer is “No!” There are absolutely no Scripture verses to be found that support the idea of a “two-phased” Second Coming of Jesus Christ! As Jesus Christ left this earth after His resurrection, as He was ascending up to heaven, His watching disciples were told: “…This same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in LIKE MANNER AS ye have seen Him go into heaven.” (See Acts 1:11) Well, did Jesus Christ have a “TWO-phased” departure from earth into heaven after His “first coming”? Did He go up part of the way, turn around and come back down, and then go back up all the way on a “SECOND” departure? NO! Jesus Christ simply ascended up (in ONE phase) into heaven! And the Bible says He is coming back in LIKE MANNER!

    ((IMPORTANT NOTE: I personally do not think that the Scripture passage listed in Section IV, 2 (i.e., II Thessalonians 2:1-4) is really critical to the timing of the Rapture. I listed it only because the “Pre-Trib’ers” base their “air evacuation” timelines as occurring prior to a FUTURE single “Mr. Nasty Antichrist” person appearing in the end times, holding a pig under his arm, and entering into a “rebuilt Jewish Temple” to sacrifice that pig. The fact of the matter is that Paul wrote II Thessalonians 2:1-4 to specifically warn folks NOT to allow themselves to become deceived about Christ’s second coming being “right around the corner” (i.e., imminent), or as Webster’s 1828 Dictionary puts it: “near in time; not distant”. Again, I think the key Bible passage dealing with the timing of the “rapture” is I Thessalonians 4:15-17. The “key” to understanding the timing of the “rapture” is an understanding of the “resurrection”. Editor of ETI highly recommends that everyone look up all occurrences of the word “resurrection” in a good Concordance, and then carefully read all Bible verses/passages containing that important term.))

    3) John 17:15, 20 (:) ((Note: the following are “red letter” words quoted directly from the mouth of the Lord Jesus Christ in a prayer to His Heavenly Father)) (Verse 15): “I pray NOT that Thou shouldest take them [i.e., His disciples] OUT OF the world, but that Thou shouldest keep them from the evil.
    …(Verse 20): Neither pray I for these [i.e., His disciples] ALONE, but for them ALSO which shall believe on Me through their word;”

    The Lord Jesus Christ in verse 20 indicates that He is praying this prayer for ALL future believers as well as for His original disciples! Please note that it is the Son of God who is praying to His Father asking Him NOT to evacuate His followers OUT OF the world. And in verse 20 He adds that His prayer is ALSO for FUTURE believers!

    Note the two words “keep from” in verse 15 above. These two words appear in this form only twice in the entire New Testament: here in John 17:15, and in Revelation/Apocalypse 3:10. And isn’t it interesting that the Pre-Trib’ers TRY to use Revelation/Apocalypse 3:10 to “prove” a Pre-Trib Rapture? Revelation/Apocalypse 3:10 reads: “Because thou hast kept the word of My patience, I also will KEEP thee FROM the hour of temptation, which shall come upon ALL the world, to try them that dwell upon the earth.” It is also quite interesting that the Pre-Trib’ers NEVER mention the “one other” use of the Greek for “keep from” that appears in John 17:15, where Jesus Christ prays NOT to have believers removed from planet Earth! Wow! It certainly appears that John 17:15 has the Son of God praying AGAINST the Pre-Trib Rapture!

    And it is certainly worth mentioning here that this is where much of the Pre-Trib argument falls apart, because Pre-Trib’ers WRONGLY ASSUME that God MUST take Christians in the “end times” OUT OF the world in order to keep them safe during the “Great Tribulation”. ((The Pre-Trib position, sadly, is built solely on assumptions, and NOT on solid Scriptural ground!)) Anyway, such an ASSUMPTION “assumes” that God is NOT able to keep Christians safe here on planet Earth DURING [i.e., in the MIDST OF] the “Great Tribulation” period. Yet the Bible is full of examples where God kept His children safe IN THE MIDST OF tribulation. In fact, that seems indeed to be a great theme of the Holy Bible, i.e., “preservation IN THE MIDST OF tribulation”. Here are just a few examples:

    a.) When God’s judgments fell on the Egyptians during the time of the Hebrews’ captivity in Egypt, God did NOT “air evacuate” the Hebrews OUT OF Egypt (or OFF OF planet Earth). No! While God’s judgments were falling on the Egyptians in all those areas where they resided, God preserved His children in Goshen IN THE MIDST OF those horrible judgments! ((And isn’t it most interesting that God’s “judgments and plagues” that fell on the Egyptians in the book of Exodus sure look very similar to God’s “judgments and plagues” that we see falling on the Earth’s inhabitants in the book of Revelation/Apocalypse?)) And could not this great and Almighty God, who preserved the Hebrew children IN THE MIDST OF those horrible plagues that befell the Egyptians, ALSO preserve His children ON planet Earth DURING the “Great Tribulation”?

    b.) When Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego (their Hebrew names, respectively, are Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah) in the book of Daniel, Chapter 3, ran afoul of King Nebuchadnezzar [i.e., the three young men disobeyed the king to his face!], did God “air evacuate” them OFF OF planet Earth in order to save them? When the king had these three young Jewish men tossed into the fiery furnace, did God “air evacuate” them OUT OF the furnace in order to save them? NO! God preserved them IN THE MIDST OF the fiery furnace!

    c.) When Daniel (see Chapter 6 in the book of Daniel) was tossed in the lions’ den for disobeying the king’s command, did God “air evacuate” Daniel OFF OF planet Earth in order to save him? NO! God preserved Daniel IN THE MIDST OF the lions’ den! ((Can’t we see a beautiful picture and pattern developing here of an all-powerful God who delights in delivering His children who STAND AGAINST tyranny and injustice – even when they are in horrible situations of danger, persecution, and tribulation?))

    d.) What about Rahab in the book of Joshua, Chapter 6, who had lied to her government’s officials to protect the Hebrew spies? When the Hebrew soldiers destroyed the city of Jericho where Rahab resided, did God “air evacuate” Rahab and her family OFF OF planet Earth in order to save them? NO! God preserved Rahab and her family IN THE MIDST OF the destruction of the city!

    e.) What lesson can we learn from Noah? When God brought His judgment through a great flood upon the inhabitants of the Earth, did He “air evacuate” Noah and his family OFF OF planet Earth in order to save them? NO! Noah and his family did NOT go AIRBORNE, but rather they were SEABORNE! God preserved Noah and his family IN THE MIDST OF horrible judgment [i.e., the great flood He brought upon the whole Earth] without taking them off of the planet!

    The above examples remind me of a beautiful Scripture verse:

    “When thou passest THROUGH the waters, I [i.e., the Lord God Almighty] will be with thee; and THROUGH the rivers, they shall not overflow thee: when thou walkest THROUGH the fire, thou shalt not be burned; neither shall the flame kindle upon thee.” (Isaiah 43:2)

    Again, preservation IN THE MIDST OF danger, persecution, and tribulation is a general theme that we can see in the Bible – and NOT “aerial evacuation” OFF OF planet Earth to avoid danger, persecution, and tribulation. Of course, we must all keep in mind that there are times when Almighty God chooses not to deliver His servants, such as Stephen, who was stoned. Additionally, after Judas Iscariot perished, all of the apostles except John were murdered!

    4) Mark 13:24-27 (:) [The Lord Jesus Christ is speaking]: “But in those days, AFTER that tribulation, the sun shall be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, (Verse 25): And the stars of heaven shall fall, and the powers that are in heaven shall be shaken. (Verse 26): And THEN shall they see the Son of man coming in the clouds with great power and glory. (Verse 27): And THEN shall He send His angels, and shall GATHER TOGETHER His elect from the four winds, from the uttermost part of the EARTH to the uttermost part of heaven.”

    If the Christians who were “raptured” BEFORE the start of the “Great Tribulation” (as the Pre-Trib’ers ASSUME) were ALREADY gathered to the Lord, did they get LOST, so that the Lord has to send His angels out to gather them a SECOND time, along with those “poor saps” who got saved “after the rapture” and had to go through the “Great Tribulation”? Again, if there is only ONE “gathering together”, and we Christians who are alive at Christ’s return CANNOT PRECEDE those who are raised in the “resurrection of the just” which occurs at the END of the “Great Tribulation”, it sure looks like the above Scripture verses are placing the “gathering together” of Christians AFTER the “Great Tribulation”!

    5) Matthew 13:24-30; 37-42 (:) “Another parable put He [i.e., the Lord Jesus Christ] forth unto them, saying, The kingdom of heaven is likened unto a man which sowed good seed in his field: (Verse 25): But while men slept, his enemy came and sowed tares among the wheat, and went his way. (Verse 26): But when the blade was sprung up, and brought forth fruit, then appeared the tares also. (Verse 27): So the servants of the householder came and said unto him, ‘Sir, didst not thou sow good seed in thy field? From whence then hath it tares?’ (Verse 28): He said unto them, ‘An enemy hath done this.’ The servants said unto him, ‘Wilt thou then that we go and gather them up?’ (Verse 29): But he said, ‘Nay; lest while ye gather up the tares, ye root up also the wheat with them. (Verse: 30) Let both grow together UNTIL THE HARVEST: and in the time of harvest I will say to the reapers, Gather ye together FIRST the tares, and bind them in bundles to burn them: but gather the wheat into my barn.’” ((A few verses later the disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ ask Him to explain the above parable.))
    “…(Verse 37): He [i.e., the Lord Jesus Christ] answered and said unto them, ‘He that soweth the good seed is the Son of man; (Verse 38): The field is the world; the good seed are the children of the kingdom; but the tares are the children of the wicked one; (Verse 39): The enemy that sowed them is the devil; the harvest is the end of the world; and the reapers are the angels. (Verse 40): As therefore the tares are gathered and burned in the fire; SO shall it be in the end of this world. (Verse 41): The Son of man shall send forth His angels, and they shall gather out of His kingdom all things that offend, and them which do iniquity; (Verse 42): And shall cast them into a furnace of fire: there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth.’”
    This parable of the Lord Jesus Christ clearly shows that the “tares” are the “bad guys” – and they are the ones who are gathered up FIRST at the “harvest” that occurs at the end of the world! Here we have the Lord Jesus Christ preaching just the OPPOSITE of the Pre-Trib’ers, who say that the “good guys” are the ones gathered up FIRST in the alleged Pre-Trib Rapture.
    6) Luke 17:34-37 (:) “I [i.e., the Lord Jesus Christ] tell you, in that night there shall be two men in one bed; the one shall be taken, and the other shall be left. (Verse 35): Two women shall be grinding together; the one shall be taken, and the other left. (Verse 36): Two men shall be in the field; the one shall be taken, and the other left. (Verse 37): And they answered and said unto Him, ‘Where, Lord?’ And He said unto them, ‘Wheresoever the body is, thither will the eagles be gathered together.’” (Compare Matthew 24:28.)
    Many Pre-Trib writers often use verses 34 through 36 of Luke 17 (or, Matthew 24:40, 41) as a “proof text” for the Pre-Trib Rapture! But they conveniently IGNORE Luke 17:37, where the Lord Jesus Christ tells His disciples that these people who are “taken away” have eagles gathering around their bodies! That sure sounds like those who were taken away were NOT “raptured” ((an ASSUMPTION made by Pre-Trib’ers)), but rather these individuals were taken away in judgment and KILLED. ((Why else would eagles be gathering around their bodies?)) Please remember that in Matthew 13:30, 39-42 that the Lord Jesus Christ said that the “tares” (i.e., the “bad guys”) are gathered first (Matthew 13:30) and burned! No wonder James Lloyd [warning] subtitled his one book, “Dishonesty in Dispensationalism”!
    7) Luke 17:26-30 (:) [The Lord Jesus Christ is speaking]: “And as it was in the days of Noah, so shall it be also in the days of the Son of man. (Verse 27): They did eat, they drank, they married wives, they were given in marriage, until the day that Noah entered into the ark, and the flood came, and destroyed them all. (Verse 28): Likewise also as it was in the days of Lot; they did eat, they drank, they bought, they sold, they planted, they builded; (Verse 29): But the same day that Lot went out of Sodom it rained fire and brimstone from heaven, and destroyed them all. (Verse 30): Even thus shall it be in the day when the Son of man is revealed.”
    Here we have the Lord Jesus Christ comparing His Second Coming to time of the flood in Noah’s day, and to the time of Lot when fire rained down on Sodom. Well, in Noah’s day the flood came and “took away” the “bad guys”. Additionally, as we pointed out earlier, Noah and his family were not “air evacuated” off of planet Earth BEFORE the flood. Also, on the VERY SAME day that Lot went out of Sodom, the fire rained down on that city. Interestingly, Lot also was NOT “air evacuated” off of planet Earth BEFORE Sodom was destroyed! Thus neither Noah nor Lot can serve as “examples” of Pre-Tribulation-type deliverance. Both were preserved IN THE MIDST of judgment!
    8) Matthew 24:26-33 (:) [The Lord Jesus Christ is speaking]: “Wherefore if they shall say unto you, ‘Behold, He is in the desert’; go not forth: ‘Behold, He is in the secret chambers’; believe it not. (Verse 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. (Verse 28): For wheresoever the carcass is, there will the eagles be gathered together. (Verse 29): Immediately after the tribulation of those days shall the sun be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken: (Verse 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. (Verse 31): And 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. (Verse 32): Now learn a parable of the fig tree: When his branch is yet tender, and putteth forth leaves, ye know that summer is nigh [i.e., near]: (Verse 33): So likewise ye, when ye shall see ALL these things, know that it is near, even at the doors.” (Matthew 24:26-33)
    The Lord Jesus Christ is talking about His Second Coming. He mentions such things as “after the tribulation of those days shall the sun be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from heaven, and the powers of the heaven shall be shaken.” Well, how can any believers see ALL these signs if they’ve been “raptured” OUT BEFORE the “Great Tribulation”? (Pre-Trib’ers will say that those believers who see these signs must be the “Christians who get saved during the Great Tribulation” – but nowhere in Scripture does it say that! Here is yet another ASSUMPTION on the part of the Pre-Trib’ers.)
    And while we’re on the subject of these many “Christians who get saved during the Great Tribulation” (according to Pre-Trib’ers), HOW is it that so many people can “get saved” during the “Great Tribulation” when the Holy Spirit and the “Church” have been taken out (according to the Pre-Trib’ers)?
    9) Mark 13:20 (:) [The Lord Jesus Christ is speaking]: “And except that the Lord had shortened those days, no flesh should be saved: but for the elect’s sake, whom He hath chosen, He hath shortened the days.”
    Almost all Bible scholars agree that here we have the Lord Jesus Christ talking about the “Great Tribulation” period. Well, if the “elect” (i.e., believers) have been “raptured” out BEFORE the “Great Tribulation”, then why does God have to shorten “those days” for their sakes? ((Oh, yes, the Pre-Trib’ers will say that the “elect” here must be those “who are saved during the Great Tribulation”. Again, another ASSUMPTION made by the Pre-Trib’ers for which we find absolutely no Scriptural backing!))
    10) Revelation/Apocalypse 13:4-7 (:) “And they worshipped the dragon which gave power unto the beast: and they worshipped the beast, saying, ‘Who is like unto the beast? Who is able to make war with him?’ (Verse 5): And there was given unto him a mouth speaking great things and blasphemies; and power was given unto him to continue forty and two months. (Verse 6): And he opened his mouth in blasphemy against God, to blaspheme His name, and His tabernacle, and them that dwell in heaven. (Verse 7): 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.”
    Most Bible prophecy scholars agree that the “him” and “he” in verses 5, 6, and 7 refer to the Antichrist. In verse 7 we see that he [the Antichrist, according to most Bible scholars] was given [power] “to make war with the SAINTS, and to overcome them”. Most Bible scholars also believe that these events are taking place DURING the “Great Tribulation”. Well, if believers have been raptured out BEFORE the “Great Tribulation”, then what “saints” is the Antichrist making war upon? Of course, the Pre-Trib’ers ASSUME that these “saints” must be individuals who have been saved DURING the “Great Tribulation”, after believers had been taken out in the Pre-Trib Rapture. But the Bible does NOT say this! Again, it is yet another very dangerous ASSUMPTION, because if this assumption, and the many other assumptions the Pre-Trib’ers make (some of which have been noted in this newsletter) are WRONG, then a lot of Christians may be very surprised (and shocked) to find out that they are the ones with whom the Antichrist is making war, and that they are here on planet Earth DURING the “Great Tribulation”!
    And while we are here in the Book of Revelation/Apocalypse, let’s address an argument that the Pre-Trib’ers put forth, i.e., that from Revelation 3:22 through Revelation 22:16 the word “church” does not appear, thus the “church” must have been “raptured” out, and is not on planet Earth during the “Great Tribulation”. Well, using such “logic”, the word “synagogue” is not mentioned either in those same verses, so there must not be any Jews being saved either during the “Great Tribulation” (no 144,000 Jewish “Billy Grahams” as some Pre-Trib’ers speculate). And if there are folks “getting saved” during the “Great Tribulation” (as Pre-Trib’ers have so written about), why wouldn’t they have the title “the church” as have believers of any other period since Christ’s time here on Earth? Pre-Trib “logic” defies normal logic!

    11) Revelation/Apocalypse 20:4-6 (:) “And I saw thrones, and they sat upon them, and judgment was given unto them: and I saw the souls of them that were BEHEADED for the witness of Jesus, and for the word of God, and which had not worshipped the beast, neither his image, neither had received his mark upon their foreheads, or in their hands; and they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years. (Verse 5): But the rest of the dead lived not again until the thousand years were finished. THIS IS THE FIRST RESURRECTION. (Verse 6): Blessed and holy is he that hath part in the FIRST RESURRECTION: on such the second death hath no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with Him a thousand years.”
    Nearly all Bible scholars agree that there has never been a time when large numbers of Christians were BEHEADED, and that this occurs during the “Great Tribulation”. Again, if the “church” has been “air evacuated” off of planet Earth, then who are these folks getting beheaded for “the witness of Jesus, and for the word of God”? Well, again, the Pre-Trib’ers ASSUME that “those being beheaded” must be people who are “saved during the Great Tribulation”. But again, the Bible does NOT state such a thing anywhere, and such ASSUMPTIONS may prove quite dangerous to those who embrace them!
    12) Revelation/Apocalypse 7:9, 13 and 14 (:) (Verse 9): “After this I beheld, and, lo, a great multitude, which no man could number, of ALL nations, and kindreds, and people, and tongues, stood before the throne, and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, and palms in their hands; …(Verse 13): And one of the elders answered, saying unto me, What are these which are arrayed in white robes? And whence came they? (Verse 14): And I said unto him, Sir, thou knowest. And he said to me, These are they which came out of GREAT TRIBULATION, and have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.”
    Here we see very large numbers of people of ALL nations who have come out of “great tribulation”. So again we must ask this question: “HOW are large numbers of people getting saved out of “great tribulation” if the “church” and the Holy Spirit of God have been previously removed (as the Pre-Trib’ers ASSUME)?”

    V. SOME VERY IMPORTANT QUESTIONS
    It is here that I would like to ask some questions that Pre-Trib’ers never seem to ask themselves – because I have never seen them addressed in their writings.
    Why would believers be taken off the planet in the so-called Pre-Trib Rapture so that they would not have to face the horrors of the “Great Tribulation” period, when so many other Christians have faced HORRIBLE persecution and tribulation throughout Church history? The horrors of the monstrous Inquisition come to mind. The horrible persecution of the Scottish Covenanters comes to mind. The horrible persecution of the French Huguenots comes to mind. The horrible persecution of Christians by several of the Roman emperors comes to mind. Why in blazes would there be a “special class” of Christians at the end of the age that gets spared horrible persecution?
    Yes, I know the arguments of the Pre-Trib’ers:
    1. “God would not allow His bride (the Church) to go through the tribulation period to get bloodied.”
    2. “God has not appointed us to wrath, so we don’t have to go through the great tribulation period.”
    The Pre-Trib’ers apply such good things to themselves – i.e., they won’t go through the “Great Tribulation” because they haven’t been “appointed to wrath”, and because they are the “bride of Christ”. But somehow these same Pre-Trib’ers believe that those individuals who get saved DURING the “Great Tribulation” under much more stressful and demanding conditions (and horrors) than many of these “air evacuated” Christians ever had to face, well, those “saved-during-the-Great-Tribulation” believers do NOT get to be spared from “God’s wrath”, and they are NOT evidently as much a part of “Christ’s bride” as those who are “raptured” in the end time! What is wrong with this picture? Of course, I Thessalonians 5:9 lets us know that God has not appointed ANY believers (including those who go through the “Great Tribulation”) to (His) wrath, but rather “to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ”. The Pre-Trib’ers surely are getting the “Antichrist’s wrath” MIXED UP with “God’s wrath” during the “Great Tribulation”, and ASSUME they won’t be facing the “Antichrist’s wrath” during that period – you know, that nasty stuff is for those “OTHER” Christians who are saved during the “Great Tribulation” (according to the Pre-Trib’ers). Again, HOW IN BLAZES can this group of Pre-Trib’ers think that they are going to get a massive break from horrible persecution and evil during the “Great Tribulation” when MILLIONS of Christians in other eras faced the most horrible persecution, and quite likely MILLIONS of Christians will be martyred by the Antichrist in the future? I personally cannot figure out this Pre-Trib “logic” – but I do think the Pre-Trib Rapture is “illogical ESCAPISM to the maximum degree”, thrown in with a lot of ignorance of key Bible verses – along with some fantastic twisting of other Bible verses!

    This tremendous quotation from Steve Wohlberg’s book, End Time DELUSIONS: The Rapture, the Antichrist, Israel, and the End of the World, is quite revealing. Steve Wohlberg states: “Could it be that the idea of escaping tribulation is really only catering to our lukewarm American tendencies? We like comfort; hate to go through trials; and can hardly bear it when our TV-dinner lifestyle is threatened. Yet historically, God’s people have gone through intense suffering. All the disciples of Jesus [Christ], except John, were brutally murdered. Thousands of early Christians were torn to shreds by wild dogs inside the Coliseum. Millions of others were horribly tortured by the Inquisition and burnt to ashes during the Dark Ages. …Believers in Russia and [Red] China have suffered terribly under communism, and yet American Christians say, ‘God wouldn’t allow us to go through the tribulation!’”

    VI. BAD FRUIT

    I have heard Pre-Trib’ers say that the “imminent” [i.e., “at any moment”] return of the Lord Jesus Christ makes them serve the Lord more fervently. That may be true for a number of Pre-Trib’ers – I know one pastor who is really fighting tyranny who believes in the Pre-Trib Rapture.

    However, a whole bunch of Pre-Trib’ers I know [i.e., those with whom I have come into close contact] use the Pre-Trib Rapture as an excuse to sit back, and they do nothing to fight the wicked tyranny we see today. I’ve heard: “Why should I care about the evil movement towards one-world government, etc., that we see today – don’t you know, I’m going to be out of here in the ‘rapture’ BEFORE things really get bad.” I’ve heard that, and similar statements, from many Pre-Trib’ers who are just sitting around, NOT opposing evil or tyranny, waiting for the Lord Jesus Christ to “air evacuate” them out BEFORE things really get “hairy” [i.e., dangerous]. Another statement I’ve heard is this: “Don’t resist the New World Order, because, don’t you know, it’s all been prophesied.” Such thinking on the part of many Pre-Trib’ers is sickening!

    VII. SUMMARY

    1. As Pre-Trib scholar John Walvood says, there is NO SINGLE verse of Scripture that by itself clearly teaches the Pre-Trib Rapture.

    2. Pre-Trib’ers FORCE ASSUMPTIONS on many key Bible verses – especially ASSUMING that all references to “saints” and the “elect” being persecuted and martyred during the “Great Tribulation” must refer to “those individuals saved” AFTER the Pre-Trib Rapture has occurred. ((Again, how are all these folks getting “saved” during the “Great Tribulation” if the “Church” and the “restrainer” (i.e., the Holy Spirit according to Pre-Trib’ers) have been removed?))

    3. We are NOT able to find one instance in the New Testament where the Lord Jesus Christ, the Apostle Paul, the Apostle Peter, or the Apostle John, make a statement to the effect that “the church is going to be evacuated off the planet BEFORE the Great Tribulation period begins”. Isn’t that a bit strange if the Pre-Trib Rapture view is the correct one?

    4. Despite taking a couple of texts OUT OF CONTEXT from a few early church fathers’ writings, the Pre-Trib’ers really CANNOT find any predominant, popular teaching that supports a Pre-Trib Rapture in any era of Church history before the 1830s.

    5. Many great heroes of the Christian faith, such as John Bunyan, Charles Spurgeon, Charles Finney, John Knox, John Calvin, Martin Luther, George Whitefield, etc., were all solid Post-Trib believers!

    6. The Pre-Trib Rapture view is a very big “cash cow” for Pre-Trib writers. Yet, surprisingly, there are some Pre-Trib writers who will admit that the Pre-Trib view is still a minority view. How can that be, you may ask, since so many prophecy books favor the “Pre-Trib” Rapture view? That is because so many of the major “Christian” publishing houses are, for the most part, CONTROLLED by “liberal” ‘Christians’. Post-Trib writers often find it extremely hard to get their books published by these publishing houses, because, Pre-Trib “sells”. ((Could that be because the Pre-Trib Rapture view appeals to an “escapist” mentality? It’s that “I sure don’t want to be here when the Antichrist takes over” mentality! The Pre-Trib Rapture view appeals to our “flesh” – after all, who wants to face persecution?)) Also, Dr. Robert Gundry says that most of the professors [at Bible colleges] that he knows hold to the Post-Trib Rapture view. He adds that some of the professors and students at colleges and institutions of the Pre-Trib Rapture persuasion hold the Post-Trib view, but cannot say so publicly for fear of losing their positions or not being allowed to graduate!

    7. Despite the fact that the Pre-Trib’ers dislike Dave MacPherson, and call him names, yet they have NOT been able to disprove his well-documented findings that show that the Pre-Trib Rapture’s origins (as far as any widespread teaching) date back to the 1830s – and not earlier than that era! Nor have the Pre-Trib’ers been able to disprove MacPherson’s findings that the vast majority of the early church fathers believed that the church would go THROUGH the “Great Tribulation” – and lots of tribulation along the way to the “Great Tribulation”.

    8. The Pre-Trib teaching seems to have originated in the British Isles in the 1830s. ((The Jesuits may have been doing a little “Dispensational creativity” in that arena many years prior to that time.)) This Pre-Trib theory was “transported” to America a little bit later, and was popularized by the Scofield Study Bible.

    9. To believe in a Pre-Trib Rapture, one must IGNORE several key Bible verses that speak directly against a Pre-Trib Rapture, such as John 17:15 where the Lord Jesus Christ prays that the Father NOT take believers OUT OF the world – and I Thessalonians 4:16, 17 which says that the Christians living at the time of Christ’s return are not caught up UNTIL AFTER the “dead in Christ” are raised “FIRST”!

    10. Believing in the Pre-Trib Rapture, it seems to me, goes AGAINST the prevalent theme of the Bible dealing with tribulation and persecution. This prevalent theme is “preservation IN THE MIDST OF tribulation”. ((Please recall the accounts of Daniel in the lions’ den, and of the three young Jews in the fiery furnace!))

    11. To believe in the Pre-Trib Rapture, you have to ASSUME that you will be amongst a very “select group” of Christians who will not have to suffer horrible things during the “Great Tribulation”. Your “select group” excludes the MILLIONS of Christians from the past who were NOT “air evacuated” from their tribulation and suffering, and the probable MILLIONS who become “saved” during the “Great Tribulation”, and who will suffer martyrdom!

  2. The Pre-Trib Rapture view, for the most part, seems to produce very BAD FRUIT – i.e., it seems to have “neutralized” many Christians living today, causing them to sit back and NOT fight evil. ((And that’s, because, don’t you know, they won’t be here when things get really bad.)) Oh – might this “doctrine” have been designed to “neutralize” Christians?

    VIII. FINAL THOUGHTS
    Here is something for those who preach and/or teach the Pre-Trib Rapture to think about: Your promotion of this doctrine could cause some Christians who hear it to believe that they are in no danger from the Antichrist, or from the Antichrist system. How would you feel if you met these folks in heaven – folks who had not taken appropriate means to defend themselves and their families, and had to watch as murderous thugs raped, tortured, and murdered their family members in front of their very eyes – all because they thought they wouldn’t be here?
    Additionally, isn’t it the “height of arrogance” to believe that only a relatively small, special group of Christians during the end times are spared horrible persecution and tribulation?

    IX. CLOSING QUOTE
    Let’s close with a great quote by Corrie ten Boom, a great Christian lady:
    “I have been in countries where the saints are already suffering terrible persecution. In China the Christians were told, ‘Don’t worry, before the tribulation comes, you will be translated – raptured.’ Then came a terrible persecution. Millions of Christians were tortured to death. Later I heard a bishop from China say, sadly, ‘We have failed. We should have made the people strong for persecution rather than telling them Jesus would come first.’
    Turning to me he said, ‘You still have time. Tell the people how to be strong in times of persecution, how to stand when tribulation comes – to stand and not faint.’
    I feel I have a divine mandate to go and tell the people of this world that it is possible to be strong in the Lord Jesus Christ. We are in training for the tribulation…
    Since I have gone already through prison for Jesus’ sake, and since I met that bishop from China, now every time I read a good Bible text I think ‘Hey, I can use that in the time of tribulation.’ Then I write it down and learn it by heart.”

INDEED, THE TIMING OF THE RAPTURE IS AN IMPORTANT ISSUE!
Note: James Lloyd calls pre-trib Christians, cultists. To learn more about this dangerous trend, see: A Message to my Pre-Trib Visitors.