There will be tribulation
We are living in a time like no other in the history of mankind. Our world is connected in ways never before imagined. In a matter of seconds, today’s technology informs us of the latest happenings in every corner of the globe.
In the palm of your hand, a smart phone can show you a world that is ever more complex. From conflict with countries to conflict within a country, everyday news reveals the present day struggle to determine what’s right and wrong. One of the greatest tragedies of our time is the increase of hostility towards Christians. Militant groups murder Christian children and bury their families alive, lawsuits challenge prayer before meetings, crosses on military graves, and even the three crosses that have always represented our beautiful city of Las Cruces!
The serious Bible student looks at these tragedies and recognizes they are not just signs of the times…but signs of the end.
I n years past it almost seemed optional to understand the parts of Scripture that discussed the end of this age. In light of recent events, however, reading God’s word has become critical toward understanding what is happening in our world, where we are going, and what we should do.
Most Christians are unknowledgeable as to how the Bible says this world will end. Unfortunately, ignorance will cause many believers to experience the end of this age in defeat. This doesn’t have to happen. Scripture tells us exactly what lies ahead. If we know what to expect we can experience triumph instead of defeat.
There is one serious misinterpretation of end time Scripture that continues to mislead millions of believers. This belief is so popular our opposition to it will likely offend you. However, if you put this difference aside and choose to continue reading, you will be better prepared for the end of this age because there is…
No Rapture of the church at the end of the world!
It is not our intention to offend fellow believers. Love for the truth compels us to warn our brothers and sisters by reasoning from the Scriptures. We encourage you to examine the evidence below in light of God’s Word. It may mean the difference between Salvation or deception.
What exactly is the rapture doctrine?
The “Rapture” refers to a belief that at any moment Jesus Christ will descend to the clouds and supernaturally take believers to Heaven before the appearance of the Antichrist and the horrific events that take place at the end of the world. This has become an increasingly popular belief among Christian communities.
Since 1995, over 50 million copies of books called “Left Behind” have shown up in bookstores sensationalizing the Rapture. The series has recently been made into a movie with exciting scenes of believers dramatically disappearing from planes, homes, and work as they are supposedly raptured before the tribulation begins.
Scripture, however, never mentions a rapture. God has emphatically spoken against this “fly away” belief.1 This is not an area of Christianity where we can simply, “agree to disagree.” Many Christians read end time Scriptures with a light heart having a false sense of security they will be gone. This leaves them vulnerable to deception in the last days. Scripture warns of false beliefs that will arise at the end of this age:
“For the time will come when people will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear.”2
The idea of a rapture was never mentioned in church history
For centuries the Church always held the belief that Christ would return after the arrival of the Antichrist. Every historical document testifies to this fact. There is no evidence that any believer thought Jesus Christ would come for his church before the tribulation. Many supporters of the Rapture doctrine freely admit this.3
There is also historical documentation of the Rapture’s origins.4 This false belief began in a small London town in the 1830’s with a woman named Margaret McDonald. She began preaching the idea of Christ returning for his Church to keep believers from suffering at the hands of Antichrist. John Darby was a notable preacher at the time. He took Margaret’s words as divinely inspired and continued to reinforce the idea of a rapture.5
Caught up in the clouds
Many Christians believe, (and the “Left Behind” books promote) that one particular Bible verse describes believers as getting taken to heaven before the Great Tribulation. The verse reads:
“…the Lord himself will come down from heaven…and the dead in Christ will rise first. After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever.”6
But notice the Scripture says “…we who are still alive and are left,” shall be caught up. Remember that those who are “left” get caught up to meet the Lord.
This Scripture never mentions believers returning to Heaven and awaiting the end of the Great Tribulation. The Rapture doctrine wrongly assumes this. When compared with other Biblical Scriptures we clearly see this verse is actually describing the return of Christ at the very end of time after the tribulation when He gathers believers to Him as He returns to earth.
The one taken and the one left
The “Left Behind” books get their name from a passage in Luke 17 and a similar passage in Matthew 24 that talk about the coming of the Lord being like the days of Noah. The words in this passage were spoken by Christ Himself and state:
“As were the days of Noah, so will be the coming of the Son of Man…they ate, they drank, they married and they did not know until the flood came and swept them all away, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. Then two men will be in the field, one is taken and one is left. Two women grinding at the mill, one is taken one is left.”7
“See,” Rapture enthusiasts say, “One is taken, one is left…it must be the Rapture! Jesus takes the Christians and leaves behind non-Christians!” Two problems with that interpretation: First, Jesus’ coming is being compared to the days of Noah. After the flood, who was left? Noah and his family…the good guys…the bad guys were taken! Second, remember 1 Thessalonians? It says that those who are “left” get to meet Jesus in the air. The good guys are left behind to meet Jesus.8
In other words, you want to be left behind so you can get caught up in the clouds to meet Jesus in the air and accompany Him back to earth at His second and final coming. There will be no Rapture like the one the "Left Behind" books talk about… that view is not scriptural.
God did not appoint us to wrath
Rapture preachers teach that believers will never experience God’s wrath during the end of the world. That is why he removes the church from the earth in the Rapture.
While it is true that believers are, “saved from wrath” Scripture makes it clear, the wrath we are saved from is condemnation of our sins because we are forgiven through our Savior Jesus Christ. This is clearly stated in the book of Thessalonians:
“God has not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ.”9
The tribulation we are faced with during that time will be the wrath of Satan (he is the Antichrist) and his followers. At the end of the world God expels him to earth:
“Woe to the earth and the sea, because the devil has come down to you, having great wrath.”10
The book of Revelation encourages believers to make a stand and be a light into the world at that time.
“All inhabitants of the earth will worship the beast—all whose names have not been written in the Lamb’s book of life, the Lamb who was slain from the creation of the world.”
“Whoever has ears, let them hear.”
“If anyone is to go into captivity, into captivity they will go.”
“If anyone is to be killed with the sword, with the sword they will be killed. ”
“This calls for patient endurance and faithfulness on the part of God’s people.”11
Here is the patience of the saints; here are those who keep the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus.
“Then I (John the Apostle) heard a voice from heaven saying to me, ‘Write: Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on.’”12
In the above Scripture we see encouragement to believers that will face persecution and possible death during the reign of the Antichrist. The Scripture indicates there are saints on the earth in the last days that have the faith of Jesus Christ. If the faithful were taken up in a rapture then why are there still believers on the earth? The answer is simple: there is no Rapture.
There is no need to worry about the wrath of Christ when He returns to administer justice upon the earth. Our Lord will have no difficulty in distinguishing between believers and evildoers. He preserved the Israelites in Egypt during the plagues. He preserved Lot and his family during the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah and he kept Noah from the flood.13
Deceived by the False Messiah
The Rapture claim that Christ will return for his followers before the coming of the Antichrist will lead many Christians to be deceived. In speaking about the end times, the Lord Himself gave this warning:
“At that time (the end of the world) if anyone says to you, ‘Look, here is the Messiah!’ or, ‘There he is!’ do not believe it…
If anyone tells you, ‘There he is, out in the wilderness,’ do not go out; or, ‘Here he is, in the inner rooms,’ do not believe it.
For as lightning that comes from the east is visible even in the west, so will be the coming of the Son of Man.”14
Anyone believing Christ is coming first could possibly believe the Antichrist is Christ coming to rapture them!
Assurance in one chapter
In closing, it is vitally important we prepare ourselves and other Christians for the coming tribulation in these last days. One of the clearest descriptions in Scripture can be found in book of Thessalonians. It is an important passage that can be used to begin a conversation and help lead fellow believers to the truth about the coming tribulation and the timing of our Lord’s appearance on earth:
“Concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ…Don’t let anyone deceive you in any way, for that day will not come until the apostasy (falling away from the faith) occurs and the man of lawlessness (the Antichrist) is revealed… the Lord Jesus will overthrow him (the Antichrist) with the breath of His mouth and destroy him by the splendor of His coming.”15
1 Read Ezekiel Chapter 13 Verse 20 in the King James Bible.
2 2nd Timothy Chapter 4 Verse 3.
3 Walvoord, J. (1979). The rapture question (Rev. and enl. ed., p. 15). Grand Rapids: Zondervan Pub. House.
4 Stanton, G. (1956). Kept from the hour; a systematic study of the rapture in Bible prophecy. (p. 217, 223, 226). Grand Rapids: Zondervan Pub. House.
5 MacPherson, D. (1975). The incredible cover-up: The true story on the pre-trib rapture (Rev. and combined ed.). Plainfield, N. J.: Logos International.
6 1 Thessalonians chapter 4 Verse 16.
7 The Gospel of Matthew Chapter 24 Verse 40.
8 Two-Minute Answers to Your Questions about the Catholic Faith. (n. d.). Retrieved September 25, 2014, from catholicscomehome.org/two-minute-answers/.
9 1 Thessalonians Chapter 5 Verse 9.
10 Revelation Chapter 12 Verse 12.
11 Revelation Chapter 13 Verses 8-11.
12 Revelation Chapter 14 Verse 13.
13 These events are noted in the first two books of Scripture: Genesis & Exodus.
14 The Gospel of Matthew Chapter 24 Verses 23-27.
15 2 Thessalonians Chapter 2 Verses 1 -10.