Pre-Tribulation Rapture and the Bible . .
"Behold, he cometh with clouds; and every eye shall see him, and they also which pierced him: and all kindreds of the earth shall wail because of him. Even so, Amen" (Revelation 1:7 KJV)
THE VERSES . . . WHAT DO THEY REALLY SAY??
Let's get one thing straight. This is not an attack upon the blessed hope of the Church! This is about the timing of that coming. The teaching that Jesus comes secretly before the "every eye shall see him" coming is only about 150 years old. For nearly 2000 years we taught Christ would come after the tribulation, as in Matthew 24 because the Bible taught it. It's not a salvation issue. As the Church comes under persecution here in America (and has in the rest of the world) you will need to know that your Savior told you this would happen. "These things have I spoken unto you, that ye should not be offended" (John 16:1). He didn't warn His disciples so that they would be offended, but rather that when persecution came they would remember that He told them, and not be offended by this message. Lets's do a verse-by-verse study. No intimidation here, just drop your preconceived notions for a moment and let's see what the text says, O.K.? Open Bibles to 1 Thessalonians 4:15 and follow me . .
(1 Thessalonians 4:15) "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 them which are asleep. (Paul is recounting Jesus' own words, that living believers at Jesus' coming do not go before those who have died trusting Him) v.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:" ( Doesn't sound very secret here does it? The Lord comes down with a shout, along with the sound of a trumpet, (see Isaiah 42:13, Jeremiah 25:30, Joel 3:16, Amos 1:2) and those who have died trusting Him rise first. THIS IS A RESURRECTION. v.17: "Wherefore comfort one another with these words. 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 " (those who are alive when He comes join those who have gone on before us trusting Him, and meet Him in the air, to be with Him forever, wherever that is). Now turn to chapter five verse 1: "But of the times and the seasons, brethren, ye have no need that I write unto you (you know this so well, there is really no reason to write) v.2 "For yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so cometh as a thief in the night" (you understand that Jesus returns as a thief in the night to the lost) v.3 "For when they (who are they?) shall say, Peace and safety; then sudden destruction cometh upon them, as travail upon a woman with child; and they shall not escape. (for when the unsaved shall say "peace and safety" sudden destruction ensues, which they (the world) will not escape) v.4 "But ye, brethren, are not in darkness, that that day should overtake you as a thief. (YOU as children of light who know God and the scripture will not be caught unaware. You will see it coming) v.5 "Ye are all the children of light, and the children of the day: we are not of the night, nor of darkness. (Jesus through His spirit is in you, and you are full of light, children of the day) v.6 "Therefore let us not sleep, as do others; but let us watch and be sober. ( Let us stay alert and WATCH [see Mark 13:37] v.7 "For they that sleep sleep in the night; and they that be drunken are drunken in the night. V.8 "But let us, who are of the day, be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love; and for an helmet, the hope of salvation. (Let us be sober-minded, trusting God and having faith in Him) v.9 "For God hath not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ, (we are not appointed to God's WRATH, or anger, but to salvation. We know we shall have tribulation ("in the world ye shall have tribulation" (John 16:33), that we will suffer for his name, but tribulation and wrath are different things.)
What have we just learned? That Jesus comes at the last trumpet sound and with a shout, that unbelievers will be caught unaware but believers will not, for they will be watching. We learned that the "rapture" is really a resurrection, with those who have died in faith before us are raised first, then we join them in the air to be forever with the Lord.* We read in Revelation 20:4 that those who "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; . ." lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years". Who is this group? We have been taught that we shall escape all these things, yet this group does not - and are reigning with Christ! This is "the first resurrection" (v. 5) of only two, the second being after the 1000 years are ended
(verse 5). THE RAPTURE IS A RESURRECTION (1 Thess. 4:16)! A secret rapture adds a third resurrection to prophecy. This will not do. There are two: one at his coming, and one at the end of the Millennium. What of those whom pre-tribbers say will die under the antichrist during the tribulation? Are they given yet another resurrection?
THE VERSES . . . WHAT DO THEY REALLY SAY??
2 Thessalonians 1:3 "We are bound to thank God always for you, brethren, as it is meet, because that your faith groweth exceedingly, and the charity of every one of you all toward each other aboundeth; So that we ourselves glory in you in the churches of God for your patience and faith in all your persecutions and tribulations that ye endure: Which is a manifest token of the righteous judgment of God, that ye may be counted worthy of the kingdom of God, for which ye also suffer: (These Christians were suffering for the Kingdom of God's sake) "Seeing it is a righteous thing with God to recompense tribulation to them that trouble you; (God is righteous to repay evil to those who persecute believers) v.7 "And to you who are troubled rest (what is this rest but an end of persecution by our being caught up with him?) with us, (all get it at the same time, and when??) "when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with his mighty angels" .
No secret coming here dear brothers and sisters. We get rest when He is REVEALED with MIGHTY ANGELS, and in case there is lingering doubt as to whether the world knows about this event, Jesus will be "In flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ, Who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power;" v.10 "When he shall come to be glorified in his saints, and to be admired in all them that believe (because our testimony among you was believed) in that day". (unless this is a second glorification or admiration, it becomes obvious what this event is. It is the second coming, a post-trib rapture.
I knew a dear old Saint years ago at a small church we were ministering in, and made a joke something to the effect of "here's a song for those who are left behind". Old Dorothy Creech shook her head and looked at the floor. "There ain't nobody left behind!" I heard her mutter. And she was right! The entire point of Paul's discourse in 1 Thessalonians 4:15-18 is to reassure the Saints in Thessalonica that they would see their loved ones again, that no believer gets left behind! Even the dead are raised so that everyone gets his reward at the same time, so that NO ONE is left behind! The entire Left-Behind series should be exactly that - left behind.
What believer gets left? Those who are unholy, who are not living right? Those with sin in their life? Then salvation becomes dependent on performance, not the finished work of Christ. Are they left because of unconfessed sin? Who does not have unconfessed sin which he has long forgotten?? No Christian is left behind.
But someone IS left behind. They are the unsaved who are gathered in bundles to be burned (see Matthew 13:30). "Then shall two be in the field; the one shall be taken, and the other left. Two women shall be grinding at the mill; the one shall be taken, and the other left. (Matthew 24:40, 41). This is trotted out as a rapture verse, but it's meaning is not quite so cheery. These who are taken go to the same place that the tares that have been gathered into bundles are taken (Matthew 13:30), or the bad fish that were thrown away in Matthew (13:38). Their carcasses are taken where the eagles (vultures) are gathered together in Luke 17:37, just as Paul repeats in 2 Thessalonians 1:7.The Saints, the "good fish", the "wheat" are gathered into the Lord's barn, a valuable commodity which gives Him great delight!
I must confess that I'v neglected posting this because I'm a coward. I held the pre-trib position for years, not because the Bible taught it but because men taught it. My initial reading at salvation was correct. But given the signs of the times and ongoing events in the world and America I thought it best to warn my brothers and sisters that contrary to popular teaching, we will not escape persecution in America. We can already sense its coming.
What do we have then? "Wheresoever the body is, thither will the eagles (vultures) be gathered together". Where are they taken? Wherever the mass of dead bodies are. In the flood of Noah the unrighteous are taken to destruction. Who is left? The righteous. The meek shall inherit the physical earth, not ghostly harps on ghostly clouds. Christ "hast made us unto our God kings and priests: and we shall reign on the earth" (Revelation 5:10). Someone says, "you are sounding like the Jehova's Witnesses! Witnesses shmitnesses! The Bible says what it says, Period. Salvation is more 3-dimensional, more real and literal than any of us ever imagined. Actually, God said we couldn't imagine it!
We are in the middle of the apostasia, the global great falling away that Paul reminded us would come first. Jesus warned us that it would come, that the world would hate us because He has chosen us out of the world (John 15:9). But don't worry little ones, not one "hair of your head shall perish" (Luke 21:18). I encourage you to read more on the subject, especially the video here. And remember, you get your ticket "when you get on the train". God bless!