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Theories on when the rapture will take place.

For this article I will again quote from part of chapter four in my book entitled "The End Time Message for the Church".

What about the Pre- or Post-Tribulation Rapture? We will now compare the beliefs of these theories to see if any of them line up with the grammatical-historical-literal as the author intended view of Scripture. In other words, do their beliefs line up with the Scriptures as understood in the times when they were written?

The biggest issue is the question about when Jesus is to return. Is he coming back before the tribulation or at the end of the tribulation?

There are many articles on the web and in books expounding the interpretation of Scriptures based on the authors' own viewpoints about when He is to return. Instead of using that approach I will try a different method for explaining when Jesus is going to return. I will take all the relevant Scriptures instead of a few selected passages and we will see what they say about the subject.

Now some say that there is a secret Rapture, while another group scoffs at this and says that everything happens at the Second Coming. One group says that there are two comings and another group laughs at this and says there is only one coming. Instead of joining either side, let's instead study the Scriptures and let them separate truth from fiction for us.

There must be some truth to both sides since they have Scriptures that seem to support their theories. So what is the problem? Well, to begin our analysis, let's compare some of the points of the pre- and post-tribulation theories and the Scriptures that they use. I will only give you a taste here because this is not the main issue in this book. There are a number of good references that I will list at the end of this chapter for further research on your part.

The pre-tribulation people say that Jesus comes for His people before the tribulation with a "catching away" of the church (some use the word Rapture for this event). The post-tribulation people say that there is no such event and that the catching away will take place at the Second Coming. So who is correct? Let's let the Scriptures decide. I will list below a number of key Scripture references to compare these two theories under some general topic categories. You should read the references for greater insight.

1. Jesus and His Church
a. Rapture: Jesus comes FOR His Church per John 14:1-3 and 1 Thessalonians 4:14-17. [They are removed from the earth.]
b. Second Coming: Jesus comes WITH His Bride per Zechariah 14:5; Jude 14; Revelation 19:14; and Colossians 3:4.

2. Physical Location of Jesus
a. Rapture: The Church is caught up with Him in the air per 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18. Christians are taken first; unbelievers are left behind. (See the contrast below.)
b. Second Coming: Jesus' feet touch the earth per Zechariah 14:4; and Revelation 19:11-21. Unbelievers are removed from the earth by being killed. Tribulation believers who are still alive will be left on the earth. See the Parable of the Wheat and the Tares in Matthew 13:29-30.

3. How Fast It Happens
a. Rapture: Happens in a twinkling of an eye per 1 Corinthians 15:52.
b. Second Coming: Happens slowly. People will see Him coming back per Zechariah 12:10; Matthew 24:30; and Revelation 1:7.

4. Resurrection or Not
a. Rapture: A resurrection takes place per 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17 and 1 Corinthians 15:52.
b. Second Coming: No resurrection mentioned per Zechariah 14:4-5; Revelation 1:7; and Revelation 19:11-21.

5. Who Will See Christ?
a. Rapture: Only believers will see Christ per Hebrews 9:28 and Acts 1:11.
b. Second Coming: Every eye will see Him per Revelation 1:7.

6. Purpose
a. Rapture: Purpose - To remove the Church before judgment per 2 Corinthians 11:2 and Revelation 19:6-9.
b. Second Coming: Purpose - Judgment per Jude 14-15; Revelation 19:11-21; and Zechariah 14:3-4.

7. Shout or Not
a. Rapture: Jesus descends with a shout per 1 Thessalonians 4:16.
b. Second Coming: No shout mentioned per Revelation 19:11-21.

8. Christ Descends for Whom?
a. Rapture: For the Church only per 1 Thessalonians 4:14-17.
b. Second Coming: For redeemed Israel and Gentiles per Romans 11:25-27 and Matthew 25:31-46.

9. What Message Is Conveyed?
a. Rapture: A message of Hope per 1 Thessalonians 4:8; Titus 2:13; and 1 John 3:3.
b. Second Coming: A message of Judgment per Joel 3:12-16; Revelation 19:11-21; and Malachi 4:5.

10. How Revealed in the Scriptures
a. Rapture: Is a mystery of the church age per 1 Corinthians 15:51.
b. Second Coming: Has extensive prophecy throughout the Old Testament.

There are a number of other differences between the Rapture and the Second Coming, but I have listed enough to show that there are some DISTINCT differences between these two events. What do we make of this? It seems pretty plain. The Scriptures are describing two DIFFERENT events.

This would mean that the Pre-tribulation theory is correct on this point in that there is a "catching away" event (Rapture) as well as the Second Coming. The Post-tribulation is incorrect in assuming that there is no separate "catching away" as we have already seen above. They are both incorrect on some other important details that we shall see as we more fully develop what the Scriptures really say later in the book.

Let's now look at some other related Scriptures that will help us understand some other differences between the "catching away", or "caught up" event, and the Second Coming.

In Matthew 24:37 it talks about how it will be as the days of Noah when the catching away takes place. In the days of Noah they were marrying, eating and drinking, and living normally when suddenly the floods started. This is as it will be at the catching away. Everything will be like normal and then suddenly the catching away will take place.

Now contrast that to the time period just before the Second Coming takes place. During the time period described in Revelation in the first 18 chapters there will have been many disasters where several billion people will have been killed from wars, plagues, and natural disasters. Things will be anything but normal when the Second Coming occurs.

Some post-tribulation people believe that the church will go through the tribulation and everything will work out okay because in Mathew 16:18 it talks about how Jesus built His church and the gates of hell will not prevail against it. But in contrast, Revelation 13:7 says that it was given to the beast to make war with the saints and to overcome them as well as to have power over all nations.

Now both of these verses cannot be correct if you see the church in the tribulation. In reality, as we shall see by the end of this book, Revelation 13:7 is not talking about the Church (which is gone at this point in time), but tribulation saints.

In 1 Corinthians 15:51-53 it talks about the mystery of Christians not dying but being changed into incorruptible bodies. In Colossians 1:26 it talks about this being a mystery and in Romans 16:25 it says that it was kept secret since the world began. In Ephesians 3:3, 5 it talks about this mystery first being revealed to the Apostles and prophets by the Spirit. In Colossians 1:27 it talks about "Christ in you, the hope of glory." This is the hope of a glorified body like Jesus has. This is a promise to the Christian only.

Old Testament saints had no such hope as it was a totally foreign concept to them. They were interested in and were promised a restored kingdom to Israel here on earth (Acts 1:). So neither the "Rapture" nor the "Second Coming" directly include the Jews unless they are completed (Messianic) Jews even though the "Second Coming" was predicted in the Old Testament (Daniel 12:1-3; Zechariah 12:10; and 14:4). But even here it was only predicted as God saving them and restoring the kingdom on earth.

I want to keep this chapter short since an elaboration of the problems of these incorrect teachings is not the main purpose of this particular book. This chapter and chapter 3 at least will make you aware of how differently people understand the Scriptures. We will cover more material on the Rapture in Chapter 14 and 15.

I won't go into the errors of "latter rain" theology, dominion theology, and "Restoration" theology. They are either post-tribulation (which we covered), or post-millennial. 13, 14

Truth Nugget - Chapter 4
Back in the 1500's, the Reformers brought back to us the truth about God's salvation through grace by faith to correct the false doctrine of salvation by works. Since then the pendulum has swung too far and now we have a misunderstanding of grace and also salvation in relation to the kingdom of God. We will see this in later chapters.

Another false doctrine that started in the first or second century was the effort to allegorize the Scriptures. This in effect allows the interpreter to make the Bible mean anything he wants it to mean.

In the final analysis, sticking with the Grammatical-historical literal as the author intended method of interpretation [with the exception mentioned earlier] that allows for future prophetic events and types will serve you well. The Bible does mean what it says once you understand the symbols, types, near-far prophecies, etc.

[End of Book Quote:]
You can check the references in this chapter and those from chapter 3 for more elaborate explanations of the problems with these false beliefs.
Or, as an example, you can "Google" on "problems with preterism" and get over 160 hits.
1 The Wycliffe Bible commentary by Moody Press, 1962, p. 1500.
2 Based on "Christianity through the Centuries", Earle E. Cairns, 3rd Edition, p. 108, 110.
3 ibid., p. 115
4 The Da Vinci Code, a Quest for Answers, by Josh McDowell.
5 The Da Vinci Code, A companion Guide to the movie, by Campus Crusade for Christ.
6 Redeeming the Da Vinci Code, a pocket guide, by Probe Ministries and EvanTell, Inc.
7 The Bible Knowledge Commentary by John F. Walvoord and Roy B. Zuck, 1983, pp. 925-927.
8 This common-sense interpretational outline is not unique to myself, but is used with minor variations by many others focused on the grammatical historical literal as the author intended interpretation of the Scriptures when you include types, symbols, symbolism and the exception mentioned earlier.
9 Three of the best books in my library on this subject are as follows:
Evidence that demands a verdict by Josh McDowell, volume I, Here's Life Publishers, 1979
Evidence that demands a verdict by Josh McDowell, volume II, Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1981
Basic Theology by Charles Ryrie, Victory Books, chapters 12 and 13