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The Rapture of the Church

by Michael Cordner


 

Introduction

In interpreting the prophetic teachings of the Scriptures, it is almost universally acknowledged by the Evangelical Church that at the close of this age, there will be a period of great tribulation, at which time the Church on earth will be raptured (or taken to heaven without suffering physical death) to be forever with the Lord, joining all those saints who have died in previous times. For almost 150 years now, the Church has debated just when the rapture will take place, before or after the Great Tribulation. In the present day Evangelical Church, the most commonly held belief is in a Pre-Tribulation rapture; however, very few Christians know anything of the history and background of this doctrine or of the foundation of the Post-Tribulation viewpoint.

 

It is the purpose of this paper to very briefly present something of this missing information and to compare and comment on the evidence. Thus, it is hoped to afford the reader an opportunity to consider the almost totally ignored "other side" of this issue. If the Pre-Tribulation view is correct, then the Great Tribulation is purely of academic interest to the Christian, and the whole issue is of little consequence. If, however, the Post-Tribulation view is correct, then the issue becomes of vital importance, as it means the Church has yet to enter the most extensive period of intense persecution and tribulation in its entire history. If the Church is going to face the onslaught of the Antichrist, and an all-out attempt to utterly destroy true Christianity, then we must be prepared! The Post-Tribulationist can afford to be wrong, but not the Pre-Tribulationist! His conscience should demand that he be very sure of his view.

HISTORY AND BACKGROUND

Pre-Tribulationism was unknown to the early Church; in fact, no one has been able to show that this particular doctrine was held by any of the church Fathers or Biblical scholars before the early nineteenth century. It apparently originated at this time during a great revival of interest in Biblical prophecy. In 1830, a young Scottish woman named Margaret McDonald claimed to have received a "revelation" that Christians would be raptured before the Great Tribulation. Shortly after this, the idea spread to London where it aroused much interest. In further "revelations" during this period, dates for the rapture were variously fixed between 1835 and 1847!

 

Pre-Tribulationism was first taught publicly at a series of prophetic meetings in Powerscourt House, Ireland. Here Plymouth Brethren organizer John Darby took hold of the idea and made it an essential element of his teachings, giving rise to what is now known as Darbyism, or Dispensationalism. (For a full account see "The Unbelievable Pre-Trib Origin" by Dave MacPherson.) However, not all of the Brethren accepted this teaching. It was rejected and opposed by such well known members as George Mueller and Samuel P. Tregelles (both of whom broke with the Brethren movement because of it). Among other men who opposed this "novel two-phased-second coming" teaching as being un-Scriptural was the Baptist preacher Charles Spurgeon. In spite of the opposition of such men, this doctrine crossed denominational lines to spread throughout England. The greatest growth of this teaching, however, has been in the twentieth century mainly through the Modern Dispensational teachings of the Scofield Reference Bible.

 

The reader may be interested to know where some of the well known and influential church leaders and theologians have stood on this issue. As previously stated, in examining the teachings and writings from the first 1900 years of Christianity, we can find no Pre-Tribulation doctrine, or interpretation of the Scriptures! Consider for a moment some of the people of whom we are speaking: Polycarp, Barnabas, Irenaeus, Tertullian, Augustine, Martin Luther, John Calvin, Charles and John Wesley, Matthew Henry, William Tyndale, John Wycliffe, George Whitefield, Jonathan Edwards, John Knox, and Charles Finney.

 

In more recent and present times, a few of the men who have rejected Pre-Tribulationism include: George Mueller, Samuel P. Tregelles, Charles Spurgeon, William Booth, G. Campbell Morgan, W.E. Blackstone (who changed from a leading Pre-Tribulation proponent), H.H. Halley, A.B. Simpson, C.T. Studd, Leon Morris, Oswald J. Smith, Francis Schaeffer, Peter Marshall, J.B. Phillips, A.W. Pink, Paul S. Rees. and C.S. Lovett.

 

Some of the well known and influential Pre-Tribulationists include: J.N. Darby, E.S. English, H.A. Ironside, J.D. Pentecost, J.R. Rice, C.I. Scofield, H.C. Thiessen. R.A. Torrey, and J.F. Walvoord.

 

While such a list does not, of course, prove or disprove any doctrine, it does illustrate that Pre-Tribulationism is a new doctrine, unknown by the church until the last century, and that this doctrine has not had universal acceptance.

THE TEACHINGS OF SCRIPTURE

 

The most reliable way to learn of the prophetic truths concerning the end of this age is to study the "straight" teachings of the Bible--completely unrationalized by the interpretations, reference notes, and additions of men. Such a study will reveal the following points:

 

(1) Christians will go through the Great Tribulation:

In the Olivet Discourse, given in Matthew 24, Mark 13, and Luke 21, Jesus presents to us a very simple, clear, and detailed account of what is going to happen in the final times. He tells the believers (the 'elect') who will be living in those times that they will go through the Tribulation, and proceeds to give them instructions for it (e.g. Matthew 24:9-26). We are told, in fact, that for the sake of the 'elect', the days of the Tribulation will be cut short (e.g., Matthew 24:22). Pre-Tribulationists do great violence to the meaning of the word 'elect' in this passage of Scripture to make it fit their doctrine. They claim that the 'elect' here refers to a Jewish remnant that will be saved during the Tribulation--a meaning that is not given (or claimed for) any of the other usages of the word in the New Testament, where in reference to the church, it is accepted without question as meaning the members of the body of Christ without distinction. This special interpretation of 'elect' is clearly against the Biblical teaching of such passages as Romans 10:12;

"For there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek (i.e., Gentile): for the same lord over all is rich unto all that call upon Him. "

and Galatians 3:18;

"There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus. "

See also Romans 2:28, 29, and Colossians 3:11.

 

In Revelation, we also read of the saints who go through the Great Tribulation:

"And I saw the souls of them that were beheaded for the witness of Jesus and for the word of God, and which had not worshiped the beast, neither his image, neither had received his mark upon their foreheads or on their hands." Rev. 20:4 "And I saw the woman drunk with the blood of the saints, and with the blood of the martyrs of Jesus." Rev. 17:6

See also Rev. 7:9-14 .(2) Jesus describes only one 'rapture' and tells us when it will be.

 

In the Olivet Discourse, only one rapture is described and Jesus tells us clearly when this will take place:

"Immediately after the tribulation of those days . . He shall send His angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together His elect from the four winds" (or "the uttermost parts of the earth"). Matt. 24:29-31, also Mark 13:24-27.

This is very clearly the one and only rapture described during the entire discourse. A Pre-Tribulation rapture is notably absent. In reading through the three Gospel accounts of the Olivet Discourse, with all its explanation and detail (Matt. 24:17-20, 23, 24, for example), it is surely unbelievable that Jesus would omit any reference whatsoever to such a momentous event as the removal of His entire Church from the face of the earth! Furthermore, Jesus made a clear statement during His discourse that precludes the possibility that He omitted any item of major importance. In Mark 13:23, He says;

"But take ye heed: behold I have foretold you all things;" (or as the New American Standard Bible translates it: "...I have told you everything in advance.").

Do we not imply then that our Lord was lying if we insist on an extra rapture of which He made absolutely no mention?

 

(3) Paul also tells us when the rapture will take place.

 

The teachings of the apostle Paul are in perfect accord with those of Jesus concerning the timing of the rapture. In I Corinthians 15:52, we read that we will be translated

"in the twinkling of an eye" and that this will take place "at the last trump" .

The book of Revelation tells us there will be seven trumpets sounded, and it can be clearly seen that the seventh (or last) is after the Tribulation. (Note the "great sound of a trumpet" announcing the Post Tribulation rapture of Matt. 24:31, and also referred to in describing the rapture in I Thessalonians 4:16-18).

 

In II Thes. 2:1-4, Paul talks again about the rapture ("our gathering together unto Him") and says:

"Let no man deceive you by any means: that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition ." II Thes. 1:3(4) Summary of passages that specifically give the timing of the rapture.

 

The translation of the living saints (the rapture) is mentioned categorically only six times in the New Testament. The timing of the rapture is given in four of these passages, namely:

 

Matthew 24:29-31 - ("immediately after the Tribulation")

 

Mark 13:24-27 - ("after that Tribulation")

 

I Corinthians 15:51-52 - ("at the last trump")

 

II Thessalonians 2:1-3 - ("shall not come until the man of sin is revealed")

 

The other two passages do not describe any timing: I Thessalonians 4:14-17 and John 14:1-4.

 

(5) Raptured saints will include martyrs from the Tribulation.

 

The Bible tells us that there will be two resurrections; the first resurrection is of the just unto life, and the second resurrection is of the unjust unto damnation (John 5:28, 29; Luke 14:14; Acts 25:14). We learn from I Cor. 15:51, 52, and I Thessalonians 4:16, 17 that the first resurrection and the rapture occur together when the dead in Christ shall be raised, given incorruptible bodies and translated into the clouds to meet the Lord, along with those who are alive in Christ. Consider now Revelation 20:4-6, where the apostle John tells us that those who are raised at the first resurrection will reign with Christ for 1000 years, and they will include those saints beheaded during the Tribulation (for not worshiping the beast, or receiving his mark). Note this is clearly said to be the first resurrection (so there can be no preceding ones) and it includes those who were martyred during the Tribulation.

 

Very clearly then, if the first resurrection and the rapture occur simultaneously, and includes martyrs from the Tribulation, then the rapture/first resurrection must take place after the Great Tribulation! (George Mueller would ask in regards to the rapture, "Can there be any resurrection before the first one; and can there be another trump after this last one?" If not, then obviously, the rapture has been pinpointed in time.)

 

The Pre-Tribulation position on this matter is very unconvincing, putting one resurrection of the just before the Tribulation (to allow for a Pre-Tribulation rapture), then another one after the Tribulation (to account for Matt. 24:29-31 and Rev. 20:4, 5), and then calling them both the "first resurrection"! (To comply with Rev. 20:5b) This explanation can be seen in the Scofield Reference Bible notes on I Cor. 15:52, and completely ignores the fact that when the Scriptures refer to the "first resurrection", it always uses the singular form, not the plural.

AN EXAMINATION OF THE PRE-TRIBULATION VIEW

The Bible unmistakably states there will be a rapture after the Tribulation. This fact is not disputed. A serious problem arises, however, when one looks for any passage of Scripture that describes a rapture and unmistakably places it before the Tribulation. There are none to be found. This fact is also beyond dispute. The honest inquirer will quickly find that the Pre-Tribulation case depends entirely on inference. All the Scriptural passages used by Pre-Tribulationists to "prove" their case have to be interpreted to infer a Pre-Tribulation rapture--none of them positively describe such a rapture. (John Walvoord said on p. 148 of the first printing of "The Rapture Question" that Pre-Tribulationism is not "an explicit teaching of Scripture", a devastating admission for a leading Pre-Tribulation teacher! Later editions delete this admission!)

 

Let us briefly examine some of the "proof texts" and main points that form the foundation of the Pre-Tribulation case.

(1) In Revelation 3:10, Jesus says that:

"Because thou hast kept the word of my patience, I also will keep thee from the hour of temptation which shall come upon all the world, to try them that dwell upon the earth."

There is nothing in the language of this passage that demands we believe that we will be kept from the hour of trial by bodily removal, or a rapture. This is indicated by the fact that the same Greek words for "keep thee from" are used by Jesus in John 17:15 when praying for His disciples, that God would "keep them from" evil. The Lord was not praying that we be removed from the world (in fact, He prayed specifically that we not be removed), but that we be kept from the power of evil (while living in its presence). See also Galatians 1:4. The same idea is expressed in the Lord's Prayer when we pray "deliver us from evil" in Matt. 6:13. (The Greek is a little different here, meaning literally "rescue us from evil".) In praying this, we do not ask to be physically removed from evil (as world dwellers we can't be), but we ask for power to live through it! The Bible abounds in proof that we can trust our wonderful God for deliverance through any tribulation. (Read Psalm 91, also Isaiah 43:2, Daniel 3:3-29, and 6:16-23)

 

(2) In Luke 21:36, we read:

"Watch ye therefore, and pray always, that ye may be counted worthy to escape all these things that shall come to pass, and to stand before the Son of man."

Here we must ask to what does the phrase "all these things" apply. Let us examine this verse in context. In verses 25-28, Jesus speaks of the signs immediately preceding His second coming in glory. Men at this time will be filled with fear and distress over "the things which are coming on the earth" (verse 26). The context here makes it clear that this fear is caused by the expectation of God's divine judgement, "for the powers of heaven shall be shaken". The second coming of Christ, when He returns in glory, will be accompanied by judgment and punishment and restitution (I Thessalonians 1:7-10; Acts 3:20, 21). This, however, is not to be feared by the Church, for to us He has given the encouragement, "Now when these things begin to take place, look up and lift your heads, for your redemption draweth nigh" (verse 28). "The things to come" then clearly describe the events associated with the return of our Lord in glory, so feared by men, and not to the Tribulation.(3) In I Thessalonians, we read:

". . . even Jesus, which delivered us from the wrath to come" (1:10) "For God has not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ" (5:9)

Again, these passages say nothing about a rapture, only that the Church will not be subject to God's wrath. The wrath of God does not refer to the Tribulation (which is the sufferings resulting from the wrath of the ungodly against each other and against the true Church), but refers to the final judgment of God upon the wicked. In Romans 2:5, we read of:

" . . . the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God."

In Matthew 24:29-30, we read of the great heavenly signs that take place just after the Tribulation that precede the glorious second coming of Christ. In Revelation 6:13-17, we read again of these signs and the terrible fear of the ungodly who want to hide --

"... from the wrath of the Lamb: For the great day of His wrath is come; and who shall be able to stand?"

The unconverted will not be ready for this day of wrath and judgment. Only those who have obtained "salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ".

 

(4) Another commonly quoted "proof" text considered to be referring to a secret Pre-Tribulation rapture is Matt. 24:40-41:

"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."

This passage says nothing about a rapture, or who will be taken. The Bible, however, does not leave us in darkness as to what is going on here, Jesus gives us an exact meaning. In Matt.13:24-30, He gave the parable of the wheat and the tares (or weeds), and in verses 36-42, He gave the interpretation.

 

In this parable, starting with verse 24, we read that the Kingdom of God is likened to a man who sowed good seed in his field; and when he slept, an enemy came and planted tares (or weeds) among the good seed (or wheat), so that both weeds and wheat sprang up together. The servants of the householder asked him where the tares had come from, and he replied that an enemy had done this. The servants then asked if they should not gather up the tares, but the householder said to leave them, lest the wheat be rooted up with them. They were both to be left until the harvest time when the reapers would first gather the tares, to be tied into bundles for burning, and then the wheat would be gathered into the barn.

 

In His interpretation of this parable, starting in verse 37, Jesus says:

"He that soweth the good seed is the Son of Man; the field is the world, the good seed are the children of the kingdom; but the tares are the children of the wicked one; The enemy that sowed them is the devil; and the reapers are the angels." (verses 37-39)

We see that Christians and non-Christians will live alongside one another in the present age until the end of the world, when the tares are gathered and burned.

"As therefore the tares are gathered and burned in the fire; so shall it be at the end of this world. The Son of man shall send forth his angels and they shall gather out of His kingdom all things that offend, and them which do iniquity; And shall cast them into a furnace of fire: there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth." (verses 40-42)

Let us go back to verse 30 in the parable for a moment, and see how it re-reads now that we have the key.

"Let both (the saved and the unsaved) grow together until the harvest (at the end of this world) and in the time of harvest I (Jesus) will say to the reapers (the angels), Gather ye together first the tares (the children of the wicked one, or the unsaved) and bind them in bundles to burn them (in the furnace of fire where there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth): but gather the wheat (the children of the kingdom or the saved) into my barn."

Further on, in verse 49, we read, by way of summary:

"So shall it be at the end of the age; the angels shall come forth and take the wicked from among the righteous." (NAS) Jesus makes it very plain--first the unsaved will be gathered, then the saved!

 

The Pre-Tribulation position on this point simply refutes the words of Jesus. In the Scofield Reference Bible notes on verse 24, we read: "The parable of the wheat and tares is not a description of the world, but of that which professes to be the kingdom"; and then in the notes on verse 30, "At the end of this age the tares are set apart for burning, but first the wheat is gathered into the barn." However, Jesus says, "The field is the world" (verse 38) and "So shall it be in the end of the world" (verse 40); also, "Gather ye together first the tares" (verse 30).(5) Pre-Tribulationists also use the Old Testament to "prove" their case by the presentation of certain analogies. Special significance is placed on the translation of Enoch before the judgment of the Flood and the deliverance of Lot before the destruction of Sodom. Both are said to be "types of the Church" raptured to heaven without dying before the Tribulation. Noah who remained through the flood is said to be a "type of Israel" in the Tribulation. Why Noah would not make just as good a "type of the Church" being preserved through the Tribulation is not explained. Why could we not apply the "type of the Church" label to the Israelites that were wonderfully preserved through the plagues of Egypt, or to the three Hebrews who were preserved through Nebuchadnezzar's fiery furnace?

 

(6) Concerning the imminency of His return, Pre-Tribulationists believe the Bible teaches that the Lord could come at any moment, and could have done so at any point in Church history. This, in itself, is considered sufficient reason by many for holding to the Pre-Tribulation view. A great deal can be said on this point--we will just look at it briefly.

 

The rapture was not considered to be imminent in the sense of "any moment" by the apostles. Paul expected martyrdom, not rapture (II Timothy 4:6-8). He also said specifically that the rapture was not imminent (II Thessalonians 2:1-2). Peter knew that he would grow old and die (Jesus told him in John 21:18-19). All the apostles knew that the gospel must first be preached to every nation--to the uttermost parts of the earth. (Nearly 2000 years later, this still hasn't been done!)

 

Jesus Himself did not teach He was coming back at any moment. The parables of the Virgins and of the Talents in Matthew 25 show how we are to use the intervening time before the return of Christ. Verse 5 tells us the "bridegroom tarried". In verse 19, we read, "After a long time, the lord of those servants cometh."

 

Jesus also gave us signs and conditions that He said must come to pass before the Tribulation. The conditions of Matthew 24:15-21; Mark 13:10, 14-19, most certainly remain to be fulfilled. Paul likewise taught that the apostasy and the Antichrist must take place before the rapture (II Thessalonians 2:1-3). Jesus tells us that when we see all these things come to pass, that the end is near. (Matthew 24:32-33; Mark 13:28-30; Luke 21:28, 31)

 

(7) Another claim made by Pre-Tribulationists is that the thought of an imminent, any moment rapture is an incentive for holy living; take away the Pre-Tribulation rapture, and you have removed this incentive, and Christians would find great difficulty in leading holy lives. The late Dr. M.R. DeHaan, popular radio Bible teacher for many years, made the following comment on radio, and also in his booklet "This Same Jesus" (Nov. 1962): "To place anything, any event, before our Lord's return is a terrible sin which will be severely judged. To state that anything must still happen before our Lord could come back is to destroy the imminency and power of the second coming; it takes away the incentive for holiness, for service, and for patience..."

 

However, piety that is motivated by anything other than supreme love of God and a singleness of purpose to serve and please Him, can never be called holiness. This right motivating purpose in life will bring forth the same blessed, victorious holy living, whether we expect His return next week, next month, or next century. Piety stemming from a fear of being caught "off base" when He returns, is not holiness, but hypocrisy.

 

(8) Some leading Pre-Tribulationists (notably Hal Lindsey and J.F. Walvoord) consider a period of time between the rapture and the second coming to be essential in order to make provision for the re-population of the earth with mortals for the Millennium. Hal Lindsey, in his popular book "The Late Great Planet Earth" (2 million copies in 2 years), considers this the strongest case for the Pre-Tribulation position! On page 143 he writes, "Here is the chief reason why we believe the rapture occurs before the Tribulation...If the rapture took place at the same time as the second coming, there would be no mortals left who would be believers; therefore, there would be no one left to go into the Kingdom and repopulate the earth." In answer to this, consider (i) At the revelation of Christ, a remnant of Jews will repent and be saved. These mortal Jews will apparently be around to populate the millennium (Zechariah 12-14), as indicated by Lindsey himself on page 54. (ii) At the revelation of Christ, there will be an entire generation of children who have not reached the age of accountability. They will certainly not be cast into hell, and they will not be raptured--that is clearly and specifically for the saints. They must enter the millennium as mortals.

 

(9) It has been claimed by Pre-Tribulationists that it is a terrible reflection on God's character to suggest He would allow His precious Church to suffer through the Tribulation. If so, then God is already indicted for allowing countless thousands of His precious saints to suffer the most agonizing deaths for His Name in the past, and even in the present day. God had no rapture for them! Perhaps the excuse is offered that they were not in the "Great Tribulation". Did this lessen their suffering any? Suffering can be no more intense than to cause death. The personal sufferings in the Great Tribulation cannot be any more intense than in the past (although the extent of such suffering certainly will be). After all, is there more intense suffering yet than to be burned alive, sawn into pieces, torn apart by wild animals, or any of the other diabolical forms of death suffered by martyred Christians?

 

The church of the Western World enjoys unprecedented ease and prosperity, with little idea what persecution really means, in spite of its great prevalence in other parts of the world. It has been estimated that more Christians have so far been martyred in the twentieth century than in all of the preceding years of the Christian era. How can we believe that we shall all be raptured out of harms way, removed by God to escape a time of testing (even unto death) that He has allowed countless others to suffer, even up to and including this very day? Are we so much better than they? It is surely inconsistent to believe that God allows Christians to suffer persecution and martyrdom as individuals and in groups of individuals, but not if the group gets big enough to include the whole church. It is also inconsistent if our teaching allows there to be a day in glory when those martyred saints from bygone times, who have counted it an unspeakable privilege to suffer and die for the name of Jesus, will join in fellowship with a raptured church that has considered it an unquestioned right to escape such a fate!

There is a consistent teaching throughout the New Testament that prepares God's children for suffering, and tells us that it is blessed to suffer for His sake. Nowhere are Christians told they can expect to escape tribulation.

"Blessed are ye when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you for My sake. Rejoice, and be exceeding glad." Matt. 5:11-12 (See also Luke 6:22, 23)

SUMMARY AND CONCLUSION

It is believed by many sincere Christians that any deviation from the popular PreTribulation teaching is un-Scriptural, and liberal (that is, a turning away from the historical fundamental viewpoint). Such a belief, however, will simply not stand up when viewed in the light of Biblical and historical fact. Scripture clearly defines only one translation, or rapture of the saints, and unmistakably places it after the Great Tribulation. A Pre-Tribulation rapture is nowhere described in Scripture, and the whole doctrine must depend on inferences which close examination will not substantiate. Further, the short history of Pre-Tribulationism denies it the stature of an historical, fundamental doctrine. In this regard, E.F. Sanders of Wheaton College has written: "Search the pages of Church history and literature, and you will not find one mention of the Lord coming before the Tribulation until after 1800. No one has ever cited any literature, writings, or quotes to the contrary! The implications of this truth are serious. If the Pre-Tribulation doctrine were true, it would mean that it was hidden from the church for 19 centuries. Not one of the brilliant theologians or Bible teachers of the pre-1830 period were able to find a Pre-Tribulation rapture and coming of the Lord on the pages of Holy Scripture---an incredulous improbability to say the least!"

 

There are at least two reasons why this issue deserves serious consideration.

 

Firstly, Pre-Tribulationism could be unwittingly contributing to the growth of the worldly, apostate church. This doctrine, when taught alongside the now commonly preached gospel of cheap-grace and easy-believism gives an easy-come-easy-go concept of Christianity that makes it palatable to the self-seeking who are more than willing to "accept Jesus" if it isn't going to cost them anything. This doctrine could also be a major reason why Christians have involved themselves so little in the 'worldly' issues of politics and the deteriorating national and world situation. A doctrine that will remove us from the scene when the situation gets really bad takes away a lot of incentive to do something about it.

 

Secondly, a time of great spiritual confusion and devastation would result if a Pre-Tribulation believing Church finds itself entering the Great Tribulation. It does not take much imagination to picture the shock, the doubt, the falling away of faith and love, the bitterness and confusion that could result. Certainly, the effectiveness of personal witness and ministry would be drastically impaired, and His precious name would not be glorified the way it could or should be. We have had a prelude to this in recent times with accounts of the spiritual devastation that resulted when the unprepared, Pre-Tribulation believing Evangelical Church in Russia thought the end-time had come when they were all but wiped out by the Bolsheviks after the 1917 Revolution. The glorious effect of intense persecution on a prepared, Post-Tribulation believing church in the same circumstances can be read in the Foreward to missionary H.A. Baker's book "Through Tribulation", as he recounts what happened to his church in China in 1948.

 

Finally, the rapture question should not be applied as a test of orthodoxy, neither should it be a question on which Christian fellowship depends. However, Pre-Tribulationalists are hereby exhorted in love to prayerfully study and consider the Post-Tribulation case, that we may all be prepared, if that time should come to us, to bring Him great glory through persecution and suffering, and become more closely conformed to His wonderful image.

"For unto you it is given in the behalf of Christ, not only to believe on Him, but also to suffer for His sake." (Philippians 1:29) "Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you: But rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ's sufferings; that when His glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also, with exceeding joy." (I Peter 4:12-13) "Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or peril, or sword? As it is written, For Thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter. Nay, in all things we are more than conquerors through Him that loved us." (Romans 8:35-37)

1995 Michael Cordner. This article may be copied and distributed freely so long as no changes are made.

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11/07/2006 14:26:48 -0800

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