Tuesday, October 28, 2008

When Will The Church Be Secretly Taken Up?

Why We Must Biblically Believe In The Rapture Of The Church Before Tribulation?

By Abraham Israel

Frequently people ask this question, ‘why we must believe that the Church will be raptured before tribulation?’ The following points are some of the important points that gives us the reasons why we must believe in the rapture of the saints before the tribulation starts,

1.) First of all, the rapture of the saints before the tribulation is the only Biblical argument that can be proved fully from the scripture without any discrepancy.
[Note: After the 'abomination of desolation' the rapture may happen any moment, after the rapture the tribulation will start immediately].

2.) Jesus Himself admonished the Church to be watchful for the imminent end time event of rapture
(Luke 21:36; Mark 13:33-37), so that no one may be found sleeping and thus miss the rapture. To sleep is not to be aware of what is happening in the spiritual world because of lack of conscious connection with Jesus daily (Mark 13:37; Luke 21:34-35; 1 Thess 5:4-6).

3.) Paul told the believer’s to comfort one another and encourage one another with the message of rapture
(1 Thess 5:11). The reason for such comfort he gave in the preceding verses which says, “…God did not appoint us [i.e. believer’s] to wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ [i.e. when He appears for salvation at the time of rapture (Heb 9:28; 1 John 3:2-3)]" (1 Thess 5:9-10).

The rapture of the Church in essence is not an escapist message but a message of comfort and hope for the Church. This is the only message that will surely bring hope and comfort for the end time Church in our generation, which is presently going through turbulent times of much persecution and hate from the world.

4.) Jesus spoke of a particular day in which people would suddenly be taken up. One will be left behind and the other raptured, after which Jesus predicted a catastrophe of destructive wrath of God which would come upon the wicked world in an unprecedented way for its evil life style
(Luke 17:30-37; Matt 24:40-44; Mark 13:14-19).

This destructive wrath of God will be in the magnitude of the destruction that happened during Noah’s and Lot’s generation, the only time when God destroyed the whole earth by a rising flood because of His wrath and then a whole city completely by raining fire and brimstone from heaven. It was a complete and an absolute destruction in the olden days
(Matt 24:36-39; Luke 17:26-29). Jesus Himself said that the wrath of God will be so intense, if God in His mercies does not stop, no flesh or humans will be left alive in the earth. But for the leftover believer’s sake, surely God has promised to intervene and shorten the days of wrath (Mark 13:20; Matt 24:22).

5.) Jesus again and again emphasized about the imminency of the rapture event through various parables, metaphors and derivatives. He described the characteristic of suddenness of this event of rapture which nobody living at that time period in the world would expect or even realize until suddenly the wrath of God would be poured out on the wicked world. But He specifically spoke to the believers to be alert and ready during this autumn season of Apostasy in which suddenly the flight of believer’s will take place on the day of rapture
(Matt 24:42,44; 25:13; Mark 13:32, 35-37; Luke 17:27, 29-30; 21:35-36). This rapture event is described metaphorically as a lightning flash which would be identified only by those who will be watching the spiritual sky (Matt 24:27; Luke 17:24; Mark 13:33-37). The spiritual sky is the voice, conviction and revelation of God and His word through His Spirit.

6.) The resurrection of martyrs who died in all the ages past because of their faith in God and believers who will be beheaded during the tribulation wrath of God will be resurrected when the last trumpet will be blown at the second coming of Christ to the planet earth
(1 Cor 15:50-58; Matt 24:31; Rev 20:4-6). Then Jesus will separate the sheep from the goats in the Judgment of nations before His millennium reign will start. There are three categories of people Jesus mentioned in the Judgment of nations; they are sheep, goats and the brethren of Jesus. The goats are unbelievers alive in their physical bodies, the sheep are believers who will be alive in their physical bodies, and the third group of people who will be pointed by Jesus as “these My brethren”, “one of the least of these” in Matt 25:40 and 45 will be the saints who will be raptured before tribulation together with the martyrs of all ages and the tribulation saints who will be beheaded by Antichrist (Matt 25:31-46; Rev 19:7-9, 13-14; 20:4-6). After this Judgment of nations Jesus and His brethren will rule the world in their glorious bodies (Matt 19:27-29). These brethren of Jesus will be none other than the sanctified Church saints of all ages past (Heb 2:11). The unbelievers after the Judgment of nations will be thrown in to the everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels (Matt 25:41, 46; 13:41-42). All the nations will be judged based on how they helped all the saints by faith during the tribulation time, in which they will be hungry, thirsty, will be strangers, naked, sick and will be thrown in to prison because of the persecution of the Antichrist. These believers in Jesus will be helping their brethren by risking their own life and putting it on stake, just like Rehab helped the spies of Israel to escape the clutches of the people of Jericho (Josh 6:17). The living believers in their earthly bodies will be invited by Jesus after the judgment of nations to live in the millennial kingdom of Jesus on earth (Matt 25:34). They will then multiply, repopulate and fill the earth again with human beings just as the days of old before the millennium (Matt 13:43).

7.) When the disciples asked Jesus about the sign of His second coming and the end of the age, Jesus did not hide anything from His disciples but chronologically and sequentially started to tell the disciples the scenario of the end time events, starting with the destruction of the temple that stood in the time of Jesus to His second coming to the earth in which He will establish the kingdom of God on earth physically. The only thing that He did not tell them was the exact hour and day of each event. The one thing I think often is, if Jesus has given all the details so plainly why are theologians and Bible experts make it so complicated for everyone to understand the word of God by adding their own ideas and theories to it?

Given below is the chronological and sequential order of the end time events that Jesus predicted will happen at the end times,

(i) Destruction of the temple that stood at the time Jesus ministered before two thousand years ago
(Matt 24:1-2; Mark 13:1-2; Luke 21:5-6, 20-24).

(ii) Then Jesus spoke specifically to the apostles in the first century that a severe persecution against them will arise because of propagating the gospel. Jesus encouraged, exhorted and edified the apostles to patiently keep on working till their very end
(Luke 21:12-19).

(iii) Jesus admonished the end time generation not to be deceived by giving heed to the words of many deceivers who will arise in many parts of the world. Jesus has already warned the believers not to go after these deceivers who will come in Jesus name and will boast saying ‘I am Christ’
(Matt 24:4-5; Mark 13:5-6; Luke 21:8).

(iv) Then Jesus predicted a period of accelerating birth pangs of sorrow which will come upon the end time generation as the signs of the beginning of the end times. In this period of time Jesus predicted many news of wars
[i.e. World War 1, World War 2….war between Arabs Israelites, Palestinian terrorism against the nation of Israel] and rumors of wars [i.e. World War 3, Armageddon, end of the world, etc…]. Jesus told that the end is not yet even when they see the things described above. But after all these preceding events, nation will rise against nation, kingdom against kingdom, there will be famines [i.e. a period of time when there is not enough food for a great number of people, causing illness and death], pestilences [i.e. a very serious infectious viral diseases like HIV, STD’s, etc that spreads quickly and kills large numbers of people. Virus is an extremely small organism which causes disease in humans, animals and plants. These are also usually called as plagues], earth quakes in various places, commotion [i.e. terrorism and public unrest], fearful sights [i.e. great destruction like 911] and great signs from heaven (Matt 24:6-8; Mark 13:7-8; Luke 21:9-11).

(v) Persecution of the End Time Church – The end time Church will be declaring the gospel of Jesus Christ in all the world through various methods with the power of God. Mighty signs, wonders and miracles will follow the gospel message in an unprecedented way. But the social and moral climate of the world will degenerate very badly during this time, so that the entire world will start to hate the Christians and will persecute the gospel propagators of the end time apostolic Church. Even within the Church many brethren will betray one another because of persecution. The lawless lifestyle of people will abound because the love of many will grow cold towards God and one another. This is the exact time in which the Jesus indicated that the nation of Israel [symbolically identifying it as a fig tree] will once again be reborn and will start to become stronger and stronger which will also indicate a unprecedented latter rain summer harvest very near ahead in which the end time apostolic Church will reap billions of souls and will bring them to maturity in the kingdom of God because it will be the end time season of summer harvest. I believe we are exactly living in this time of summer harvest. According to this verse in the Bible, this will be the terminal generation which will see all the end time events take place to the very end and also it says that Jesus will be standing at the heaven’s doors ready to rapture the Church away to heaven during this period of time
(Matt 24:32-35; Mark 13:28-31; Luke 21:29-33). Saints wake up! We are very near than when we first believed. Jesus will surely build His glorious end time Church. No matter how severe the persecution that arises, “the gates of hell shall not prevail against” the end time Church (Matt 16:18). Jesus described particularly this period of time in the gospel to encourage the end time Church to understand that it is He who will be in control of all these end time events (Matt 24:9-14; Mark 13:9-13; Luke 21:12-19). The urgency, priority and the focus of the end time apostolic Church should be to preach the gospel to all the nations (Matt 24:14; 13:10). The Church of the end time should learn to endure these persecution and trials and keep proclaiming the gospel till rapture takes place (Matt 24:13; Mark 13:13; Luke 21:19; Rev 3:7-11). Many false prophets will rise up during this period of time and will deceive many (Matt 24:11). So the Church should discern about these wolves in sheep’s clothing by their fruits and should not get deceived because of lack of discernment (Matt 7:15-20). These deceivers will always form a faction and will have followers who will follow them. They will have a peculiar spirit of divisiveness to isolate and divide the Church of Jesus Christ (1 John 2: 18-19). The anointing within us will send a danger signal when we interact with these deceivers (1 John 2:20-22; Mark 2:6-8). We cannot determine whether a spirit is of God or the devil by the manifestation in itself, but it is the source when checked will reveal the reality of its character. This is the reason John the Apostle advised the first century apostolic Church to check every spirit by making it to confess that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh. The spirit of the Antichrist which is in the world can never be able to confess that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh (1 John 4:1-3). If a person does not want to hear the gospel and hates it, he is already influenced highly by the spirit of error (1 John 4:4-6). The bottom line is, “…darkness shall cover the earth, and deep darkness the people; But the Lord will arise over [you] the end time Church, and His glory will be seen upon [you] the end time Church.” (Isaiah 60:2).

(vi) The temple will again be built up in the end times as in the former times. Preparation is already on in Jerusalem to build it. A seven year peace covenant will be made by Antichrist with the nation of Israel, so that the Jews will again be able to offer gifts, sacrifices and offering as in the days of Old Testament times to conduct the temple rituals without any problem. Because the Gentiles will co-exist with the Jews, they will be trampling the city of Jerusalem till the second coming of Jesus Christ to this planet earth. The Bible says that the city of Jerusalem will be trampled by the Gentiles until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled
(Luke 21:24). According to the Bible the times of the Gentiles will only end with the final kingdom of Antichrist (Dan 2:44; 7:8-14; 8:21-25). The Antichrist will be the last one to trample and make the city of Jerusalem and its temple to be desolated (Daniel 9:27). At the middle of the covenant at three and half years Antichrist will break the covenant and will enter in to the temple to stop and influence the independent offering of gifts, sacrifices and offering of worshipers, which up to that time will be controlled by the priests of the temple and its managing society. This is one of the seasonal sign of rapture that Jesus particularly told the believer’s in Judea to watch for and thus flee out to the mountains to escape being caught by the evil clutches of Antichrist (Matt 24:15-19; Mark 13:14-17).

(vii) Jesus told all the believer’s to watch and pray at this time so that they may not be left behind during the tribulation
(Matt 24:20-22; Mark 13:18-19; Luke 21:36).

(viii) During this period of time, the apostasy of the Church and self-indulgence of people will reach its zenith
(Matt 24:23-26; Mark 13:21-23, Luke 21:34; 17:23).

(ix) Exactly at this time of callousness of many, the rapture will happen in a twinkling of an eye, as like the lightning that comes from the east and flashes to the west. The believer’s will be raised up in their glorious bodies, will gather together and will fly away like young eagles to meet the Lord in the air
(Matt 24:27-28; Mark 13:18; Luke 17:24-37; Isaiah 40:31). Jesus indirectly told the apostles that the days will come when they will understand that the end times will not be seen by them in the first century. Then the apostles will desire for the day of the Son of Man [because this will be the time of fulfillment of God’s promise of reaching the whole world with the gospel before the rapture takes place (Luke 17:22, 26; Matt 24:14; Mark 13:10)] but they will not see it because they will all be dying mostly within the first century itself (Luke 17:22).

(x) Immediately after the rapture takes place, the destructive wrath of God will start to be poured out on the wicked world
(Luke 17:27-29). This tribulation wrath of God will have the potential to wipe out the whole human race if it is not stopped. But for the sake of believer’s to be left alive on the earth when Jesus comes back, God will shorten the time of tribulation wrath (Matt 24:21-22; Mark 13:19-20). This tribulation wrath will come suddenly upon the whole human kind as a snare (Luke 21:35; 17:26-30). The revelation of the Son of Man is only to the believer’s during the day of rapture (Luke 17:30; 1 John 3:2; John 14:1-4). Jesus exhorted all the believer’s living through the tribulation to pray without losing heart because God may soon avenge the Antichrist by His wrath hearing the prayers of the saints, and also when the Son of Man comes to rule on the earth (Luke 18:1-8).

(xi) After the tribulation of those days will get over, the signs of the Son of Man will appear in heaven and all the tribes of the earth will mourn for the messiah to come and deliver them from the curse of Antichrist. Then they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory
(Matt 24:29-30; Mark 13:24-26; Luke 21:25-27). Jesus has clearly instructed the left behind believer’s to look up and lift up their heads in prayer towards God and receive strength to victoriously face tribulation even from the beginning of tribulation in hope for them to be delivered when Christ comes. Only those believer’s who will look up to God daily during those times will have the strength to even die as martyrs (Luke 21:28; 18:1-8; Rev 20:4).

(xii) During the second coming of Jesus Christ to establish His millennial kingdom and rule with a rod of iron, the last trumpet will be blown and all the dead martyrs of the tribulation time will be resurrected in their glorious bodies. At this time
“death will be swallowed up in victory” by Jesus Christ forever. But the living believer’s will be left on the earth to populate it again (Matt 24:31; Mark 13:27; Luke 21:27). You may ask a question here, how do you know for sure that only the martyrs of tribulation time will only get resurrected and the living believers will go onto live in the millennial kingdom of Jesus Christ? Because when we see Rev 20:4-6 resurrection and compare it with the last trumpet resurrection of 1 Cor 15:51-54, we can clearly know that the resurrection mentioned in both the places can only happen in Matt 24:31 according to the law of last event of trumpet in the Bible.

The following points proves that the last trumpet resurrection is the resurrection at the second coming of Jesus Christ,

(a) The last trumpet is the last and final trumpet to be sounded according to its order, time and sequence of all the trumpets mentioned in the Bible. The Greek word for ‘last’ is ‘eschatos’ which means ‘last in time or in place’. This last trumpet will be the last one blown in all the end time events. There is no more any trumpet mentioned in the whole of Bible after this event
(1 Cor 15:52; Matt 24:31). Hence it is the second coming trumpet sound.

(b) In
1 Thess 4:14-18 Paul focuses the trumpet sound to the time we the believer’s will get resurrected and will meet the Lord in the air and we will be with Him forever. Here the context of his message is the message of comfort. In 1 Cor 15:50-58 Paul focuses the trumpet sound to that of inheriting the kingdom of God which Jesus also told the living believer’s in Matt 25:34. Then Paul says not all believers will die, but all we [i.e. those who have been martyred for Christ’s sake] shall be changed.

(c) Then according to the context, he does not focus on giving out a message of comfort rather he focuses on the message of victory by saying
“Death is swallowed up in victory”. This cannot be rapture because the believer’s who will be left behind after the rapture will still die beheaded by Antichrist. Only at the time of second coming Christ will completely win over ‘Death and Hades’ forever.

(d) With the message of victory Paul encourages the believer to steadfastly continue in the work of the Lord which is to keep sharing the good news of salvation through Christ. This is a victory message given to the believer’s who specifically go through the tribulation. The work they will do for God will be rewarded at the time of Judgment of nations. For Christ will reward them with the kingdom prepared from the foundation of the world
(Matt 25:31-46). They will inherit it as His obedient spiritual children’s (1 Cor 15:50). Hurrah! During the tribulation time many children of God who will know the Lord intimately in a personal way will surely do great exploits even in the midst of life threatening persecution (Dan 11:32-35).

(e) Only when Christ sits on the earth, the sting of death and Hades will lose its power against Him completely because He has won over it and will hold the key of Death and Hades in His hand on earth. At the end of His rule on earth, Jesus will throw both Death and Hades in to the lake of fire
(1 Cor 15:55; Rev 19:11-16; 20:11-14). Only those sinners who will rebel against Him will prematurely die during the millennium because of the curse that will come from Him (Isaiah 65:19-20). The bottom line during tribulation is, Death and Hades will still rule at its pinnacle on earth through a Antichrist. During the time of tribulation the key to the bottomless pit [i.e. Hades] will be given in to the hands of the fallen star Lucifer the Devil (Rev 1:18; 9:1; Luke 10:18; Isaiah 14:12).

(f) In
1 Thess 4:16-17 Paul describes about two categories of people who will be raptured during the trumpet sound, (i) The dead in Christ will rise first (ii) We who are alive shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. As a result both these categories will continue from that time to be always with the Lord forever. But in 1 Cor 15:51-52, Paul describes all the believers of only one category rising up, they are “the dead will be raised, incorruptible, and we [i.e. the martyrs during the tribulation and of all times past] shall be changed”.

(g) The resurrection of tribulation martyrs is a mystery compared to the rapture because Paul says
“…we shall not all sleep [i.e. all believer’s living at the time of tribulation will not die (Matt 24:22)], but we [i.e. those who have been martyred for their witness to Jesus and for the word of God (Rev 20:4-6)] shall all [i.e. the martyred saints of every era] be changed….at the last trumpet [i.e. second coming of Christ (Matt 24:31)].” (1 Cor 15:51-52).

(h) In the martyr’s resurrection Jesus will send His angels with a great sound of a trumpet
[i.e. last trumpet], and they will “gather together His elect” all over the earth (Matt 24:31; Rev 20:4-6). But in the Judgment of nations, after Jesus sits on His throne, all the nations will be gathered before Him, only then Jesus will start to separate the sheep believers from the goat unbelievers (Matt 25:31-34, 41). If the martyred tribulation saints were standing in the judgment of nations before the throne of Jesus to be separated from unbelievers, How can they sit at the same time to judge, live and reign with Jesus? (Rev 20:4). This clearly shows that the martyr’s resurrection will happen at the exact time of Jesus’ second coming to the earth. Then all the martyred saints will sit along with Jesus in their glorious bodies and will judge the nations because judgment will be “committed to them”. Praise the Lord!


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Anonymous said...

You might enjoy going to Google and typing in "Famous Rapture Watchers," "Letter from Mrs. Billy Graham," "Pretrib Rapture Diehards" (note the hypocrisy under "1992"), "America's Pretrib Rapture Traffickers," "Thomas Ice (Bloopers)," "Pretrib Hypocrisy," "Revisers of Pretrib Rapture History," "X-Raying Margaret," "Open Letter to Todd Strandberg," "The Rapture Index (Mad Theology)," "LaHaye's Temperament," "Hal Lindsey's Many Divorces," "Pretrib Rapture Desperados," "Scholars Weigh My Research," "Deceiving and Being Deceived," and "Roots of (Warlike) Christian Zionism." Evangelical historian Dave MacPherson is responsible for all these plus his bestselling book THE RAPTURE PLOT (available at Armageddon Books online). Lord bless and protect you! Lou

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