By Cornerstone Church Pastor:
Let me first say that our fellowship as Christians is not
based upon the timing of the rapture, but upon the finished work
of Jesus on the cross. Some have accused those who believe in
a pre-tribulation rapture as "escapists," trying to
avoid all trouble or persecution. On the contrary, the Church
always has been and always will be persecuted as long as we are
in the world, but this is not the same as the wrath of God poured
out during the Tribulation. We believe the rapture occurs before
the Tribulation because scriptures overwhelmingly support a pre-tribulation
rapture, as opposed to the a-millennial, post-millennial, and
post-tribulation theories. I'll be happy whenever Jesus returns
for His Church, whether it is Pre-Trib, sometime during the Tribulation,
or at the end of the Tribulation. We can't be dogmatic over something
that hasn't occurred yet. Whenever He comes is His will, which
is fine with me. In the mean time, God has given us scriptures
to examine. The following is a list of scriptural proofs that
indicate the rapture will be Pre-Tribulation.
16 Proofs for a Pre-Tribulation Rapture
Proof #1: Revelation 19:11-21 doesn't mention a resurrection.
The rapture is a resurrection of those "in Christ"
(1 Thess. 4:13-18). Isn't it a little bit odd that in Rev. 19:11-21,
which is the clearest picture of the second coming of Christ,
there is no mention of a resurrection? The rapture will be the
biggest event since the resurrection of Jesus where hundreds
of millions of Christians will be resurrected and translated,
yet there isn't any mention here. Don't you think it deserves
at least one verse? The rapture isn't mentioned because it doesn't
happen at the second coming.
Proof #2: Zechariah 14:1-15 doesn't mention a resurrection.
This is an Old Testament picture of Jesus returning to earth
at the second coming. Again, no mention of a resurrection.
Proof #3: Two different pictures are painted. In the Old Testament,
there were two different pictures painted of the Messiah-one
suffering (Isa. 53:2-10, Ps. 22:6-8, 11-18) and one reigning
as King (Ps. 2:6-12, Zech. 14:9,16). As we look back on these
scriptures, we see they predicted two separate comings of the
Messiah-the 1st coming as a suffering Messiah and the 2nd coming
(still future) as a reigning King. In the New Testament, we have
another picture added. Again, we have two pictures painted which
don't look the same. These two different descriptions of Jesus'
coming point to two separate events we call "the rapture"
and "the second coming."
- Proof #4: The Known Day and the Unknown Day Concerning the
return of Jesus, the Bible presents a day we can't know and a
day we can know. Matthew 25:13 says Jesus will return at an unknown
time, while Revelation 12:6 says the Jews will have to wait 1,260
days for the Lord to return. The 1,260 days begins when the Antichrist
stands in the Temple and declares himself to be God (Matt. 24:15-21,
2 Thess. 2:4) This event will take place at the mid-point of
the seven year Tribulation (Dan 9:27). The Antichrist has authority
to rule for 42 months, which is 1,260 days (Rev. 13:4) and will
be destroyed by Jesus at His second coming (Rev. 19:20, 2 Thess.
2:8). The known and unknown days must happen at different times,
meaning they are two separate events.
- Proof #5: A door open in heaven (Revelation 4:1) The door
in heaven is opened to let John into heaven. We believe John's
call into heaven is prophetic of the church being caught up at
the rapture (see proof #6). In Revelation 19:11, heaven is opened
again, this time to let the armies which are already in heaven
out. This is the Church, which has been raptured at a previous
time, following Jesus out of heaven at the second coming.
- Proof #6: "Come up here." (Revelation 4:1) A voice
called for the apostle John to "Come up here," and
immediately he was in heaven. This could be a prophetic reference
to the rapture of the Church. The words "Come up here"
are spoken to the two witnesses who are killed in the middle
of the Tribulation, who are resurrected and ascend into heaven
(Rev. 11:12). Therefore, the phrase "Come up here"
could mean the church is raptured in Rev. 4:1. The word "church"
is mentioned 22 times in Rev. 1-3, but is not mentioned again
until Rev. 22:17.
- Proof #7: The 24 elders have their crowns. After John is
called up into heaven, he sees the 24 elders with their crowns
(Rev. 4:4-10). We know that Christians will receive their rewards
(crowns) at the rapture (2 Tim. 4:8, 1 Pet. 5:4). We will be
repaid at the resurrection of the righteous (Luke 14:14). The
elders couldn't receive their crowns unless the resurrection
(rapture) has taken place.
- Proof #8 Holy ones are already with Jesus in heaven (Zech.
14:5, Rev. 19:14) The armies in heaven, clothed in fine linen,
follow Jesus out of heaven at His second coming (Rev. 19:14,
Zech. 14:5, Col. 3:4). These are not angels because Rev. 19:8
tells us the fine linen is the righteousness of the saints. In
order to come out of heaven we first have to go in, indicating
a previous rapture.
- Proof #9: Kept from the hour of testing (Rev. 3:10) Revelation
3:10 says we will be kept out of the hour of testing which will
come upon the whole earth (the Tribulation). Some have wrongly
believed "keep" means to keep through, or protect through
the Tribulation. Suppose you approach a high voltage area with
a sign that says, "Keep Out." Does that mean you can
enter and be protected? No, it means you are forbidden from entering
the area. But this verse also says He will keep us from the hour
of testing. It is not just the testing, but the time period.
If a student is excused from a test, he still may have to sit
in the class while others take the test. But if he is excused
from the hour of testing, he can go home. The Church will be
called home before the hour of testing.
- Proof #10: Angels don't resurrect people when they gather
them for judgment. When the angels are sent forth to gather the
elect at the second coming (Matt. 24:29-31), some have wrongly
interpreted this as the rapture. There is one huge problem with
this interpretation. If we are resurrected at this time, why
would we need angels to gather us? In the resurrection, we will
be like the angels (Matt. 22:30), able to travel in the air at
will. Obviously, these people who are gathered are not resurrected,
therefore it can't be the rapture. No one would claim the wicked
are raptured at this time, yet Matthew 13:39-41, 49 says the
angels will not only gather the elect, but also the wicked. This
gathering is not a resurrection.
- Proof #11: Both wicked and righteous both can't be taken
first. First Thessalonians 4:13-17 says the righteous are taken
and the wicked are left behind. Matthew 13:30, 49 says the wicked
are taken first and righteous are left behind. This points to
two separate events, the rapture and the second coming.
- Proof #12: Jesus returns from the wedding. When Jesus returns
to earth at the second coming, He will return from a wedding
(Luke 12:36). At the rapture, Jesus is married to His bride,
the Church. After the wedding, He will return to earth.
- Proof #13: Jesus will receive us to Himself, not us to receive
Him (John 14:2-3). Jesus said He would prepare a place for the
Church in heaven, then He would come again to receive us to Himself.
Why would Jesus prepare a place for us in heaven and then not
take us there? At the rapture, He will come to receive us to
Himself, "that where I am (heaven), there you may be also."
If the rapture occurred at the same time as the second coming,
we would go up to the clouds and then immediately come back to
earth. That would contradict John 14:2-3.
Proof #14: The one who restrains is taken out of the way.
In 2 Thess. 2:6-7, Paul says "the one who restrains will
be taken out of the way" before the Antichrist can be revealed.
We believe this refers to the rapture because the Church is clearly
the biggest obstacle to the Antichrist becoming a world ruler.
Proof #15: The separation of the sheep and goats (Matt. 25:31-46)
If the rapture occurred at the second coming, why would the sheep
and the goats need to be separated immediately after the second
coming? A rapture at the second coming would have already separated
the sheep and the goats. With a Pre-Tribulation rapture, the
people saved after the rapture will need to be separated after
the second coming .
Proof #16: Who will populate the Millennium? If the rapture
occurs at the second coming and the wicked are cast into hell
at that time, who will be left to populate the millennium? Only
people in their natural (non-resurrected) bodies will be able
to have children (Matt. 22:30). With a Pre-Tribulation rapture,
the people saved after the rapture who are alive at the second
coming will populate the earth during the Millennium (See "Who
will populate the millennium?" Bible Study). http://www.odsgc.net/~cornerst/