ONE HUNDRED REASONS FOR THE PRE-TRIB RAPTURE
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See Also: The Seventy Weeks
Chapter One Some Post-Trib Men and Their Books
Chapter Two The Believable Origin of Post-Tribulationism
Chapter Three The Strange Bedfellows of Post-Tribers
Chapter Four Arguments From History
Chapter Five Arguments From A Literal Interpretation
Chapter Six Arguments From The Tribulation
Chapter Seven Arguments From The Church
Chapter Eight Arguments From The Book Of Revelation
Chapter Nine Arguments From An Imminent Coming
Chapter Ten Arguments From The Thessalonian Epistles
Chapter Eleven Arguments From Typology
Chapter Twelve Arguments From The Second Coming
Chapter Thirteen A List Of Pre-Trib Scholars
AcknowledgementsGrateful appreciation is extended to the publishers of Christian books. Especially, I would like to thank Logos International, William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, Kregel Publications, Creation House, Moody Press, Judson Press, and Zondervan Publishing House for their kind permission to quote from copyrighted books. These are given a proper credit line in the following pages.
My thanks are extended to Brother John A. Witmer, librarian of Dallas Theological Seminary, and to Brother Rolland D. McCune, professor of the Central Baptist Theological Seminary of Minneapolis, for assisting me in putting together the list of pre-trib scholars. A debt of gratitude is also due to Brother Oscar Mink, Crestline, Ohio, and Brother James Hobbs, McDermott, Ohio, for reading the manuscript of this book and giving helpful suggestions. My very deepest gratitude is expressed to brethren who have given in a financial way to make this book possible.
Milburn Cockrell, editor
The Baptist Examiner
February 27, 1976
Brother Dave MacPherson’s two books have been edited and re-issued under the title of The Incredible Cover-Up by Logos International, Plainfield, N. J. I have quoted from the two books as they were originally printed. These two books are now put into one book.
Other books available by the author...
The Gospel in Isaiah
Here Comes the Bride!
Death and the Hereafter
The Ten Commandments
Wine, Worship, and the Word
Salvation (Sermons to Sinners)
The Doctrine of Hell
Scriptural Church Organization
Why Be A Church Member?
The Veiled Woman
The Tithe is the Lord’s
John the Baptist
In Search of the Universal, Invisible Church
An Exposition of Matthew 24
PREFACEThe blessed hope of the return of Jesus Christ for His own has been the expectation of believers since the days of the New Testament churches. Christians have not always agreed on the manner, time, and purpose of His coming. Christendom has been debating pre-millennialism and a-millennialism since the third century. In the last hundred years there has arisen no small stir among pre-millennialists as to the finer points of their system of interpreting the prophecies of the Bible. There prevail four different schools of thought among pre-millenarians today.
PARTIAL RAPTURE THEORYThis view is held by only a few pre-millennialists. It seems to have originated in the works of Robert Govett in the 1800’s. These people contend that the saints will be raptured in groups during the tribulation period as they are prepared to go. They assert the frequent exhortations in the Bible to be faithful, to be ready, and to watch, all suggest that translation is a reward for faithfulness. These people are called “split-rapturists.”
MID-TRIBULATIONISMThose who hold to mid-tribulationism are called “mid-tribers.” These people believe that the church is translated at the middle of the seven years before the Great Tribulation takes place. This school of thinking is of modern origin with Norman B. Harrison as its greatest defender. It has never been accepted by a large number of pre-millennialists and is losing ground each year.
POST-TRIBULATIONISMThose who contend for post-tribulationism are called “posttribers.” They believe the church will pass through the period of tribulation and be translated when the tribulation ends. In its broadest definition this is the common view of Christendom. It is held by a-millennialists and post-millennialists. Even Catholics and modern liberals take this position.
Post-tribers appeal at length to the writings of the church fathers to vindicate their position. This is because they have far more history to prove their contention than Scriptures. A second thing they do is to cast doubt on the great pre-trib texts. This is very evident in Ladd’s The Blessed Hope.
Post-tribers also play down the Old Testament by what they call “the superior hermeneuties of the New Testament.” It seems never to occur to them that the progressive revelation of the Old Testament is never contradictory to the New Testament. Post-tribers freely use the non-literal interpretation of prophecy when it suits their purpose. This is the same hermeneutics of a-millennialists and modern liberals.
There are really two basic groups within the post-trib camp. The “classic” post-tribers hold that the entire age is the tribulation. These bear a greater resemblance to the church fathers, yet they generally reject the imminency of Christ’s return, while the church fathers believed it. The “new-lite” post-tribers believe the tribulation will occur at the end of this present age. This group is of very modern origin, although they claim great antiquity.
Post-tribulationism in many ways harmonizes more with amillennialism and post-millennialism than with pre-millennialism. This will be demonstrated in the following pages of this book.
PRE-TRIBULATIONISMThose who hold to pre-tribulatlionism are called “pre-tribers.” This view maintains that no part of the church will enter the tribulation since it will be raptured before the tribulation begins. The majority of all pre-millenarians hold to a pre-trib rapture of the church, notwithstanding a resurgence of post-tribulationism at the present time. Pre-tribulationism is the only view, which can be reconciled successfully with a literal interpretation of prophecy.
Since the time of my spiritual birth, I have held to a pre-trib rapture of the saints. Although I have listened attentively to the other schools of thought, I remain more convinced than ever that the pre-trib rapture of the church and saints is the only tenable school of thought. I offer the following one hundred reasons for my view, not in the spirit of controversy, but in loving defense of my position.
I make no claim for originality for these arguments. Some have been long ago mentioned in various books. Others I have come to see through personal study and, to my knowledge, these have never appeared in any book. Since the arguments for pre-tribulationism comes from the Bible, I feel safe in saying that they are thousands of years old and originated with the Holy Spirit who inspired the Holy Bible.
Sharrel E. Ford, presently the pastor of the Bethel Missionary Baptist Church, Sacramento, California, put out a book in 1954, in which he denies the two phases of the return of Christ. Ford’s book abounds with numerous wild and weird prophetic ideas.
Ford is known as a “modern new-liter” on the west coast. He holds to a number of things contrary to the historic Baptist position. A good example of his revolutionary views is seen in a statement in his paper, The Midnight Cry. In the September 1, 1975, issue he makes this statement: “The covenants were confirmed ‘in Christ,’ in the body of Christ, in Abraham, in Israel. But many saved people are not ‘in Christ,’ not in His body, not in Abraham, not in Israel, not in the covenants.”
George Eldon Ladd professes to be a Baptist. He is a strong post-trib writer and educator. Presently, he is professor of New Testament Exegesis and Theology at Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena, California. In 1956, he published his book, The Blessed Hope.
On page 77 Ladd writes:
If a pre-tribulation rapture is a Biblical doctrine, it ought to be clearly set forth in the Scriptures which prophesy the Rapture of the church.(1)
Then on page 165 of his book he says:
With the exception of one passage, the author will grant that the Scripture nowhere explicitly states that the Church will go through the Great Tribulation.(2)
Does Ladd abide by his own rule?
In Ladd’s book he lists A. J. Gordon as a post-triber on pages 46 and 47. While Gordon may not have agreed completely with pre-tribers of today, he must not be listed as a post-triber. A. J. Gordon wrote in 1891, in The Watchword: “The church is to be caught up to be with the Lord in the air before the Lawless One is enthroned, before the Great Tribulation.”
Dave MacPherson is one of the most outspoken opponents of the pre-trib rapture living today. He is director of the nondenominational Heart of America Bible Society, Kansas City, Missouri. MacPherson has written a book, The Unbelievable Pre-Trib Origin. It was published in 1973. His book is well titled “unbelievable,” because his attempt to make Miss Margaret MacDonald of Port Glasgow, Scotland, the founder of pre-tribulationism is not believable. Pre-tribulationism did not begin in 1830, but in the first century with Christ and His apostles.
On page 101 he contends that Margaret was the first person in the world to split the second coming into two distinct parts. Dave is in error about this. The venerable Benjamin Keach (1649-1704), pastor of the Baptist Church, Horsleydown, London, taught a twophase coming of Christ:
There is a precursory coming of our Lord, (as one notes) or a most glorious spiritual coming, to set up a more visible and universal kingdom in this world, which will precede his personal appearance . . . for I see no reason to doubt, but that the precursory coming of the Lord Jesus is to prepare things for his personal appearance; when, (as a bridegroom) he will appear to celebrate the marriage with his beloved spouse.(3)
On pages 105 to 108 he introduces a document written by Margaret MacDonald. This material does not contain any statement about a coming of Christ for the church before the Great Tribulation. It even sounds post-trib in places. Margaret wrote:
The trial of the Church is from Antichrist. It is by being filled with the Spirit that we shall be kept.(4)
Dave wrote a second book on The Late Great Pre-Trib Rapture in 1974. Like the first book, it abounds with lengthy denounciations of pre-tribers and very little positive information to prove his theory. He says pre-tribulationalists are anti-Semitic, a false cult, and MacDonaldites. According to him, pre-tribers are guilty of the deaths of millions of Chinese Christians.
One of the most recent books on the post-trib is by Arthur Katterjohn. It is called The Tribulation People. Katterjohn is assistant professor at Wheaton College. He takes the position in his book that those of us living today may very well be the tribulation people.
Herbert W. Armstrong, president and pastor of the Worldwide Church of God of Pasadena, California, began advocating that some in God’s Church might go through the Great Tribulation in the mid 1950’s. Armstrong is considered by most conservative Christians today as a false prophet. Books have been written exposing his heresy. Few post-trib Baptists seem to know that Armstrong is one of the best defenders of the new post-trib doctrine which they hold.
In a 1959, issue of The Plain Truth, the official magazine of the Worldwide Church of God, Herman L. Hoeh wrote an article entitled “The ‘Secret Rapture’ fact . . . or fiction?” The article denies any pre-trib coming and puts the church in the tribulation period. Such proof texts as Matthew 24:29 are used. Hoeh makes the woman in Revelation 12 the church. He makes the seventh trumpet in Revelation 11 the same trumpet as in 1Thessalonians 4:16-17 and 1Corinthians 15:52. He concludes by saying that there “is no secret rapture before the tribulation or at any other time!”
Informed people know that these arguments are the same arguments now being used by post-tribers to prove their theory. In all honesty, pre-tribers would be more justified in calling post-tribers “Armstrongites” than post-tribers are in calling pre-tribers “Macdonaldites.”
I am aware of other post-trib books written by J. Barton Payne, Oswald A11is, Robert H. Gundry, Joe Ben, George H. Fronow, Norman S. MaePherson, George L. Rose, Harold J. Oekenga, Clarence Bass, Henry Frost, B. W. Newton, S. P. Tregelles, Norman Douty, D. H. Kromminga, and Samuel H. Kellogg.
1. George E. Ladd, The Blessed Hope (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co. Copyright 1956. Used with permission), p. 77.
2. Ibid., p. 165.
3. Benjamin Keach, Exposition of the Parables (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Kregel Publications. Copyright 1974. Used with permission), p. 643.
4. Dave MacPherson, The Unbelievable Pre-Trib Origin (Kansas City, Missouri: Heart of America Bible Society. Copyright 1975. Used with permission of Logos International), p. 107.
Modern post-tribers boast that their system of teaching is of great antiquity, dating back hundreds of years before the time of Margaret MacDonald. They appeal to the writings of some of the church fathers and their belief that the pope was Antichrist. According to them, this fact proves the whole system of the posttrib.
But this hardly proves that the historic position of the church is post-tribulationism. There have been many different views as to who Antichrist is across the centuries. Some early believers thought Nero was the Man of Sin. Others during the Dark Ages looked upon the pope as the personal Antichrist. During World War II, a good many sincere believers thought Hitler was Antichrist. Some today believe Henry Kissinger is the Antichrist of Revelation, but they hold to a pre-trib rapture.
Post-trib Baptists who seek to prove post-tribulationism by the church fathers should be ashamed of themselves. Since when did Baptists go to any human authority to vindicate their religious views? Human histories are not inspired of God. Baptists take the Bible as the sole rule of faith and practice, not some uninspired church father. Any view of eschatology which depends more on church history than the Bible incriminates itself.
Arthur Katterjohn, a post-triber, writes:
The correctness of the pre-tribulation rapture must be weighed from Scripture, not history. (l)
Our post-trib friends ignore the many statements in the writings of the church fathers on an imminent coming of Christ. Our opponents are utterly at a loss to explain this, or to reconcile it with their denial of an any moment coming of Christ. There is as much proof that the early churches were pre-tribulational, as there is that they were post-tribulational. It is hard to prove anything concretely except pre-millennialism from the second century until the Reformation.
It would seem that my post-trib Baptist friends have a greater historical problem than do we pre-tribers. It is in an area much nearer to our own time. Who is the first Baptist theologian who taught the new brand of post-trib doctrine in the 1900’s? How many can they name before 1930? Before 1950?
It is utterly vain to appeal to some Baptists who were postmillennialists or a-millennialists to prove the new brand of post-trib doctrine. Where were the pre-millennial Baptists who held to the modern brand of the post-trib in 1907? Post-tribers need some clear cut statements from leading Baptists in these days.
If post-tribers call upon me to produce some pre-tribers who were Baptists, I will be happy to do so. Can they produce men of equal standing in our ranks who were post-tribers?
The most outstanding Baptist theologian in the south in the 1800’s was unquestionably J. R. Graves. He was editor of The Tennessee Baptist. In 1883 he wrote:
The Second Advent of Christ manifestly has two aspects or comprises two events: His coming into the air for all his saints, and His visible appearing in glory to the whole world with all his saints.(2) The translation of God’s children above the clouds of heaven, there to remain during the period that God visits an unbelieving, wicked world with desolating punishments, is most clearly revealed both by the prophets and Christ Himself through His evangelists and apostles.(3)
How can post-trib Baptists account for Graves’ views on this since according to them pre-tribulationism was never heard of in America until 1859? Can we conceive of J. R. Graves suddenly embracing the doctrine of a mentally deranged little girl that he heard of in Scotland? Did Graves go after new doctrines? or did he stand upon the old doctrines? Is there an honest post-triber who will publicly affirm that J. R. Graves received his prophetic beliefs from Margaret MacDonald and furnish proof?
To the north was A. J. Gordon, famed pastor of Clarendon Street Baptist Church in Boston. Gordon wrote in the August 1891 issue of The Watchword: “The church is to be caught up to be with the Lord in the air before the Lawless One is enthroned, before the Great Tribulation.”
I. M. Haldeman, pastor of the First Baptist Church of New York City, said in 1916:
Antichrist is the beginning of the Tribulation, the Tribulation cannot begin till the Church is taken out of the way .... The Tribulation epoch will thus begin by the secret and sudden coming of the Lord for His Church and the removal of the Holy Spirit.(4)
William Bell Riley (1861-1947) was an able debater, writer, and founder of Northwestern Schools. During his life he addressed an auditorium of 2,640 seats, filled with people, at the First Baptist Church of Minneapolis. In 1917 Riley wrote:
Are the Church and the Kingdom the same? — NEVER. The Kingdom is a future thing and the church is a present thing. The church is not to go through the Tribulation.(5)
How can post-tribers account for the wide spread belief in a pre-trib rapture among the leading Baptists in America? Why were such men not branded as “new-liters” by all other Baptists? The answer is not difficult to give. The pre-millennial Baptists of that day held to a pre-trib coming of Christ.
Some post-tribers among Baptists admit that they have changed their views on the second coming of Christ. Dave MacPherson, who has a Baptist background, concedes in a letter to me: “Our family use to be pre-tribers at one time.” Joe Bell admits on page 1 of his book, The Second Coming: A Re-examination of the Rapture Question, that he held “without question to the ‘pre-trib rapture’ for over 20 years.” In view of such statements, who suddenly obtained new lite? Who suddenly changed their position? More than a few modern post-trib Baptists would be forced to admit that they have changed their view from a pre-trib rapture to a post-trib rapture in the last few years.
Post-tribulationism among Sovereign Grace Baptists is scarcely over 20 years old, yet they claim that their view is the historic Baptist position! This new brand of pre-millennialism came from “new lite” obtained from reading books by non-Baptists or Baptists who are leaders in the Neo-Evangelical Movement. For post-trib brethren to brand those who continue to hold to the old doctrine as “MacDonaldites” and “Scofieldites” is almost unforgivable. Such activities display a depth of theological bigotry seldom excelled in all the history of Baptist churches.
1. Arthur Katterjohn, The Tribulation People (Carol Stream, Illinois: Creation House. Copyright 1975. Used with permission), p. 114.
2. J. R. Graves, The Seven Dispensations (Texarkana, Arkansas-Texas: Baptist Sunday School Committee, 1928 Edition), p. 391.
3. Ibid., p. 407.
4. I. M. Haldeman, Ten Sermons on the Second Coming (New York, New York: Fleming H. Revell Company, 1916), pp. 583-84.
5. W. B. Riley, The Menace of Modernism (New York, New York: Christian Al-liance, 1917), p. 349.
In his excellent book, The New Neutralism, William E. Ashbrook writes:
If one is to be aware of the perils of the New Neutralism he must see it as a movement born of compromise. It had its origin, like so many of the isms of our day, in an inadequate view of sin, particularly the sin of apostasy. It is propagated for the most part by men who at best are shaky and uncertain as to that great New Testament doctrine of the imminent return of Jesus Christ. They have become infested, at least in measure, by the post or a-millennial notion of constructing a better social order along with their all-positive presentation of the gospel. The unscriptural idea of infiltrating the denominations with the leaven of affirmative truth is part of the stock in trade of the New Evangelicalism, as we shall attempt to show. Uncertainty concerning the truth of our Lord’s return, coupled with fuzzy thinking as to the rapture of the Church, has provided an open door to the errors of this current neutralism.(1)
Harold J. Ockenga, the father of the New Evangelicalism, was the first president of Fuller Seminary. Ockenga named the NAE, Fuller Seminary, Billy Graham, and Christianity Today as the sources of propagating the new mood among evangelicals. Today Fuller is the seat of post-tribulationism. This is the school where George Ladd has been teaching since 1950.
The doctrinal position of Fuller is well illustrated by Edward John Carnell, former president, and now active professor there. William Ashbrook writes again:
... the fact remains that Dr. Carnell’s shaky position on inspiration, his accommodations toward science socalled, his rejection of the pre-tribulation rapture and his inclusivist philosophy toward the denominations, together with Iris general attitude toward fellowship with unbelievers and worldly indulgences, correctly represents the position of Fuller Seminary today. (2)
Baptist brethren, take a good look at the leaders of the New Evangelicalism. Here are the most able defenders of your new brand of the post-trib doctrine. They are the founders and propagators of what you believe. Would you that are Sovereign Grace Baptists say that you are in good company?
Present Truth is an a-millennial publication. In the September, 1974, issue they have a footnote on page 28 recommending the book by Dave MacPherson on The Unbelievable Pre-Trib Origin. On page 36 they commend the writings of George Ladd in another footnote. This is printed in connection with a series of articles on amillennialists. How far astray has professed pre-millennialist gone when his books are praised by a-millennialists? Could it be that these a-millennialists know that what Ladd and MacPherson hold to is closer to their view than to pre-millennialism?
Dave MacPherson is circulating a long list of what he calls posttribers. On this list is the names of a good number of a-millennialists and post-millennialists. In a letter to me he says, “We included some post-mills and a-mills on our list.” How can any man who claims to be a pre-millennialist put himself in the camp with a-millennialists and post-millennialists and seem to declare that they agree. Does Dave not know that post-millennialists believe that Christ comes at the end of the millennium? Does he not know that a-millennialists oppose the millennial doctrine and believe in a general resurrection and judgment?
Does not the uniting together of such a group in a list of names circulated by Dave clearly indicate that post-tribers are more agreed with a-millennialists and post-millennialists than pre-millennialists? Remember, birds of a feather flock together. Dave feels more at home in the camp of pre-millennial opposers than with pre-trib pre-millennialists. Keep your company, Dave, we don’t care to share it with you.
The unstable millennial view of Arthur Katterjohn is very evident in his book, The Tribulation People. On page 46 he says:
Arguments over an intermediate thousand-year kingdom, and counter-arguments by a-mill and postmillennarians are worthy subjects for study, but will likely not be resolved until history becomes theology’s proof.’’ (3) On page 77 he writes: “But between the two most likely possibilities (a-millennialism and pre-millennialism) there is little practical difference. (4)
The general view among post-tribers is that it does not matter what you believe about eschatology as long as you will put the church in the tribulation period. Will Meloon in the Nov-Dec., 1975, issue of Eschaton wrote: “So, whether you believe we are in that ‘tribulation’ period and facing Armageddon, or in the ‘little season’ of Rev. 2:3, 7, facing Gog and Magog, whether you spiritualize the ‘1000 years’ to mean eternity (or as some do, meaning this very time, the present) or whether you literalize it and are looking forward to an earthy reign with Christ, we must agree, I think, that Christ comes only after certain prophecied events and ‘after the tribulation of those days’ whether it be ‘The Great Tribulation’ or ‘The Little Season’ and we should be prepared; it may be soon, and ‘later than you think!’ But, it is post-tribulational, after . . . post, and this —not a form of millennialism — has more to do with a relevant message, pertinent to our times and of more practical significance than one’s views about the millennium.”
Such statements causes me to wonder if the post-trib doctrine may not become the eschatological view of the ecumenical movement. Most post-tribers say that it makes no difference about what you believe about the millennium, just so long as you hold to the new brand of the post-trib doctrine.
1. William E. Ashbrook, The New Neutralism (Columbus, Ohio: William E. Ashbrook), p. 4.
2. Ibid., p. 21.
3. Arthur Katterjohn, The Tribulation People (Carol Stream, Illinois: Creation House. Copyright 1975. Used with permission), p. 46.
4. Ibid., p. 77.
Nowhere are we told to watch for the coming of Christ.(1)
Clement of Rome in the first century wrote:
He shall come quickly and shall not tarry; and the Lord shall come suddenly into His temple, even the Holy One, whom ye expect.(2)
The Didache of A.D. 120 contains these words:
Be watchful for your life; let your lamps not be quenched and your loins not ungirded, but be ye ready; for ye know not the hour in which our Lord cometh.(3)
Cyprian, bishop of Carthage, wrote about A.D. 220-250:
Let us ever in anxiety and cautiousness be awaiting the sudden advent of the Lord.(4)
Commenting on the view of the Paulicians and Waldenses of the Dark Ages, D. T. Taylor states that they held to
a constant expectation of the end of the world and the coming of Christ.(5)
2. Historians tell us that the early church held to an any moment coming of Christ. Edward Gibbon wrote:
... those who understood in their literal sense the discourses of Christ Himself were obliged to expect the second and glorious coming of the Son of Man in the clouds, before that generation was totally extinguished which had beheld His humble condition upon earth.(6)
The Encyclopedia Britannica says:
Faith in the nearness of Christ’s second advent and the establishment of His reign of glory on the earth was undoubtedly a strong point of the primitive Christian Church.(7)
The early Christians were taught to look for the return of Jesus Christ, and it is evident even from the New Testament that some of them expected a speedy return.(8)
Crippen declares that
the early Fathers lived in expectation of our Lord’s speedy return.(9)
3. The detailed development of some of the finer points of truth during the last two centuries does not prove that pre-tribulationism is neo-orthodoxy. The Bible discloses that the prophecies of the end time will be made plainer to students of the Word as the end of the age approaches (Dan. 12:4, 9). The renewed interest in the prophetic Word in the 1800’s and 1900’s gives proof of this statement.
Sir Issac Newton (1642-1727) used to say
that about the time of the end, in all probability, a body of men will be raised up, who will turn their attention to the prophecies, and insist upon their literal interpretation in the midst of much clamor and opposition.(10)
1. George E. Ladd, The Blessed Hope (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co. Copyright 1956. Used with permission), p. 115.
2. J. B. Lightfoot, The Apostolic Fathers (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Book House, 1974), p. 24.
3. Ibid., p. 129.
4. Cited by D. T. Taylor, The Voice of the Church (London, England: Samuel Bagster & Sons, 1855 Edition), p. 73.
5. Ibid., p. 127.
6. Edward Gibbon, The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire (London, England, 1845 Edition), Vol. I, p. 532.
7. The Encyclopedia Britannica (Cambridge, England: Copyright 1911, Eleventh Edition), Vol. XVIII, p. 532.
8. Louis Berkhof, The History of Christian Doctrines (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Book House. Copyright 1937. With permission of Banner of Truth Trust), p. 262.
9. Crippen, History of Christian Doctrine (Edinburgh, England: 1883), p. 231.
10. Cited by D. T. Taylor, The Voice of the Church (London, England: Samuel Bogster & Sons, 1855 Edition), p. 236.
Post-tribers are forced to spiritualize certain Scriptures. They apply Daniel 12:10 to the church (See The Late Great PreTrib Rapture, p. 55 and The Second Coming of Christ: A Re-examination of the “Rapture” Question, pp. 14-15).
Generally, post-tribers make the twenty-four elders angels in the book of Revelation, even though the term “elder” is never applied to angels in all the Bible. (See The Blessed Hope, pp. 27-28). This is a clear-cut case of a-millennial spiritualizing of the prophecies of the Bible.
5. Pre-tribers only distinguish clearly between the church and Israel. Our view is in harmony with Paul’s distinction of the two companies in 1Corinthians 10:32. While Israel and the church are similar in some ways, it would be a terrible mishandling of God’s Holy Book to apply indiscriminately the prophecies, promises, programs, and responsibilities of Israel to the church, or vice versa.
Notice some distinctions between Israel and the church. About four-fifths of the Bible concerns Israel; about one-fifth the church. There is a contrast in their respective rules of conduct (Deut. 7:1-2; 1Cor. 4:12-13). There is a contrast in their appointments of worship (Luke 1:10; Lev. 17:8-9; Num. 3:10; Matt. 18:20; Heb. 10:19-20). Israel was one nation; the church has in it people from many nations. Israel is an unfaithful wife (Isa. 54:5; Hosea 2:1-23); the church is Christ’s bride ( John 3:29).
Post-tribers make no distinction between the church and Israel. Their entire system of teaching depends on confusing the church with Israel. Arthur Katterjohn says:
In contrast to the advocates of early removalism, the post-triber finds no basic distinction between the Church, the elect, the saints, or faithful Israel in God’s economy of salvation. All believers, heirs of salvation by grace through faith, are part of the Body of Christ.(1)
6. Pre-tribers alone make the proper distinction between the trumpets of the Scripture. The trumpet in 1Thessalonians 4:16 and 1Corinthians 15:52 is a single trumpet sounded at the rapture of the saints. It is something which takes place “in a moment” (1Cor. 15:52) and involves the raising of the dead saints and the translation of the living saints. There is nothing in the context of these two Scriptures which indicate that they are in any way dealing with a trumpet of judgment on the wicked.
The trumpet in Revelation 11:15 is the last of a series of seven trumpets of judgments. It covers a long period of time. John says: “But in the days of the voice of the seventh angel, when he shall begin to sound . . .” (Rev. 10:7).
The trumpet sounded in Matthew 24:31 is sounded after the seventh trumpet in Revelation and after Christ has already come. It is sounded to regather Israel to Palestine (Deut. 30:3-4; Ezek. 20:37-38; 37:1-16; Joel 2:1-32; Isa. 11:11-12; Isa. 27:12-13). There is no mention in Matthew 24:31 of a translation of living saints to the discomfiture of our post-trib friends.
1. Arthur Katterjohn, The Tribulation People (Carol Stream, Illinois: Creation House Copyright 1975. Used with permission), p. 14.
8. The Great Tribulation is the “time of Jacob’s trouble” ( Jer. 30:7). It has to do with Daniel’s people, the Israelites (Dan. 12:1; 9:24). No where do we find in the New Testament that the tribulation is the “time of the church’s trouble.”
9. It is the Divine purpose of the tribulation to prepare a remnant of Israel for the Millennial Reign of Christ (Deut. 4:29-31; Jer. 30:4-11). It is not the purpose of the tribulation to prepare church members for the kingdom age. The church is prepared for the Millennial Kingdom by the Judgment Seat of Christ (1Cor. 3:13-15; 2Cor. 5:9-10; Rev. 19:7).
10. No New Testament Scripture says the tribulation is at hand for the church, but Paul told the Philippian church: “The Lord is at hand” (Phil. 4:5). If you want to know in what sense Paul believed the Lord was at hand, then examine Philippians 3:20-21.
11. None of the Old Testament passages on the tribulation make any reference to the church (Deut. 4:29-30; Jer. 30: 4-11; Ezek. 20:33-34; Dan. 9:24-27; 12:1).
12. None of the New Testament passages on the tribulation mentions the word “church” (Matt. 24:4-28; 1Thess. 5:4-9; Rev. 4:19). The best post-tribers can do is to try to make the saints in the tribulation the church. I can understand how a person who believes in the universal church theory can consistently do this, but I am unable to see how a Sovereign Grace Baptist who believes only in the local church can do this.
With the exception of one passage, the author will grant that the Scripture nowhere explicitly states that the Church will go through the Great Tribulation. God’s people are seen in the Tribulation, but they are not called the Church but the elect or the saints. Nor does the Word explicitly place the Rapture at the end of the Tribulation.(1)
An honest confession is good for the soul.
13. Pre-tribulationism maintains the unity of the seventy weeks of Daniel 9:24-27. We have only two gaps which are indicated in the passage itself. One between the 49 years and the 434 years, and a second consisting of the church age between the 483 years and the 490 years. Our opponents have a third gap in the middle of the last seven years which is not indicated in the passage. This is because they try to confuse Israel’s program with the church.
1. George E. Ladd, The Blessed Hope (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co. Copyright 1956. Used with permission), p. 165.
15. Antichrist is said to persecute the saints (Dan. 7:21, 25) and Israel in the tribulation (Rev. 12:13), but never the church. Why does he not persecute the bride of Christ if she is still on earth? It must be because a pre-trib rapture has moved her to Heaven.
16. Judgment is said to begin with the church in 1Peter 4:17. If the church is judged at the same time of the nations at the end of the tribulation, or in Matthew 25:31-46, then Judgment does not begin with the church!
17. The expectation of the church for the Redeemer’s coming is “the Lord is at hand” (Phil. 4:5). The expectation of Israel is “the kingdom is at hand” (Matt. 24:14).
18. The New Testament churches were taught to obey the government (Rom. 13:1-5; 1Tim. 2:1-4; Titus 3:1). The government during the tribulation is controlled by Satan (Rev. 13:4). The church must be delivered before the Satanic government manifests itself. Israel will properly call down God’s judgment upon these ungodly rulers like in the imprecatory Psalms.
19. Such passages as John 15:18-25; 16:1-4; 1Peter 2:19-25; 4:12; Jas. 1:2-4; 5:10-11; 2Thess. 1:4-10; 2Tim. 3:10-14; 4:5 were written to disclose persecutions and to aid the members of the church living under trying circumstances. Why is there no mention of the church living under Antichrist? The silence of the epistles argues for the church’s absence from these times. 2nd Thessalonians 2 mentions the Antichrist, but it does not say the church is to suffer at his hands.
20. The only organized church on earth during the tribulation period is the Harlot Church (Rev. 17-18). God’s people are in this one-world church (Rev. 18:4). If the true church is still on earth, she is not mentioned as separate from this apostate system. Then she must have become a part of it, according to post-trib doctrine. This is impossible (Matt. 16:18). There are believers who have kept themselves from defilement in the tribulation (Rev. 14:4), but they are not called the church. If the church is no longer on earth, then there is no need for her to be mentioned as keeping herself undefiled.
21. The expectation of the church is the sight of God’s Son from Heaven (1Thess. 1:9-10), not the wrath of Antichrist. Such language as is used in 1st Thessalonians 1 would he useless if the wrath falls before the Son is revealed.
22. Those exempt from the locusts (Rev. 9:1-12) are the 144,000 sealed out of the 12 tribes of Israel. If the church is here during this time, she will be unsealed and subject to this five months of torment. Post-tribers say the church will be preserved from the wrath of God during this period. What about these locusts then? Why is the church not exempt?
23. The translation of the church is never mentioned in any passage dealing with the second coming of Christ after the tribulation. Notice especially Revelation 20:4-5 and Matthew 24:29-31. There is a resurrection in Revelation 20 of the tribulation saints only. There is no mention of any translation of living saints. Those sitting upon thrones are not said to be raised or translated in Revelation 20. These are seen coming from Heaven in the previous chapter with Christ.
24. The dwelling of Jew and Gentile together in the church was hidden from the Old Testament saints (Eph. 3:3-6; Col. 1:26-29; Rom. 16:25-27). The Messiah was cut off after the 69th week (Dan. 9:24-27). Hosea 3:3-5 and Psalm 22:2-31 does not mention the church age. How could any Old Testament text speak of the church, since there was no church until the days of Jesus Christ and John the Baptist?
25. The church is not appointed to wrath (Rom. 5:9; 1Thess. 1:9-10). There is no indication that the wrath to come is merely wrath from God. The church will not endure either the wrath of God (Rev. 6:16; 11:18; 14:8,10,19; Rev. 15:1,7; 16:1,19) or the wrath of Antichrist (Rev. 12:12). To be delivered from the wrath to come would mean the wrath of Antichrist as well as the wrath of God. The church will be removed by a pre-tribulational rapture.
26. Christ promised that the church would escape the tribulation. “And take heed to yourselves, lest at any time your hearts be overcharged with surfeiting, and drunkenness, and cares of this life, and so that day come upon you unawares. For as a snare shall it come on all them that dwell on the face of the whole earth. Watch ye therefore, and pray always, that ye may be accounted worthy to escape all these things that shall come to pass, and to stand before the Son of man” (Luke 21: 34-36).
Notice four things here: First, there is a reference to a future tribulation which will “come on all them that dwell on the face of the earth.” Second, some will escape these things. Third, those who escape them will escape “all these things.” To “escape all these things” does not mean to “endure” them to the end of the judgment period. Fourth, these escaping ones will “stand before the Son of man.” By this I understand that they will stand before the Judgment Seat of Christ.
Post-tribers cannot successfully explain these Scriptures by attempting to apply them to the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 A.D. This is the same company that Christ addressed in Matthew 24 which they say is the church. Why this sudden change? Those He addresses must be saved for they are told to watch and pray. Did the events in 70 A.D. involve the whole earth? Did any one go to stand before the Son of man?
27. It is always God’s general plan to deliver believers before a Divine judgment is inflicted (2Pet. 2:6-9; Heb. 11:31; Psa. 1:5). Lot escaped the destruction of Sodom. Its ruin was suspended until he was safe. The angel said:
“I cannot do any thing till thou be come thither” (Gen. 19:22). Peter said that God “delivered just Lot” (2Pet. 2:7), and then added: “Surely, then the Lord knows how to rescue godly people from trial” (2Pet. 2:9).(1)
Jesus Christ said that His second coming would be like it “was in the days of Lot” (Luke 17:28-30). Lot was not preserved in the destruction, but completely delivered from it by being removed. Likewise, Christ will take the church and the saints of this age out before the brimstone of the tribulation comes (Rev. 9:16-18), for He has promised to do so (Rev. 3:10; Luke 21:36).
28. At the rapture the church is taken to the Father’s house of many mansions: “And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also” ( John 14:3). Jesus had just said He was going to the Father. He tells the church that when He comes back “there” they will go with Him. There would be no need for Christ to catch the saints of this age and the church up in to the air (1Thess. 4:17), if they were going to immediately return to the earth. John 14 says we are going to the Father’s house.
29. Christ promised that the gates of Hell would never prevail against the church (Matt. 16:18), yet Antichrist during the tribulation makes war with the saints and prevails against them (Dan. 7:21). These saints cannot be saints in churches; otherwise, Matthew 16:18 is untrue.
30. Post-tribulationalists confuse the church with the saved in that they attempt to make such terms as “elect” and “saints” to be the church. Certainly the churches are composed of the saints and the elect, but not all saints and all elect are in the churches (Rev. 22:17; 1Cor. 5:4-5, 11-13). God uses the term “elect” of Israel who was never a part of the church (Isa. 45:4; 65:9,22; Rom. 11:7,28). The Israelites are called saints in the Old Testament though they were not in the churches of the New Testament (Psa. 30:4; 31:23; 37:28; 50:5; 52:9; 79:2; 85:8; 97:10; Psa. 116:15; Psa. 132:16; Psa. 145:10; Psa. 148:14; Psa. 149:5,9). There are saints in the New Testament who were not in the church (Matt. 27:52).
If a person follows post-tribulationism to its logical conclusion, he will find himself a believer in the universal invisible church theory which puts all the elect in the church.
31. Since the saved in the church are clothed in the righteousness of God, justified forever and wholly separate from the world ( John 3:18; Rom. 5:1; 8:1,33-34; 1Cor. 11:31-32; John 15:18-19; 17:14,16), how can they be thrust into the judgments which fall upon a Satan-ruled world system?
Such a notion must have originally arisen from the Arminian heresy that the believer contributes something to his own acceptance before God, and having failed to some extent in this responsibility, he will be purged and purified by the sufferings under Antichrist. This is a Protestant and Baptist purgatory and an insult to the doctrine of salvation by grace. Such a teaching says that Antichrist and the tribulation can do for the church what Christ was unable to do. This teaching resembles the religion of a holy man in India on a bed of spikes, not the religion of Jesus Christ!
32. Many generations of church members have gone to glory without passing through the Protestant and Baptist purgatory. Why should the last generation of the church suffer that from which the vast host has been spared? The church has suffered martyrdom in certain periods of her history, but this was from wicked men. The tribulation is God’s judgment upon wicked men.
33. One will search in vain to find instructions to prepare for life under Antichrist in the case of the Lord’s church. In-stead, the church is admonished to prepare for the coming of the Lord. The church is not told: “Get ready for the gloom,” but “the bridegroom is coming soon” (Matt. 25:6).
34. There is mention of a temple (Matt. 24:15; 2Thess. 2:4; Rev. 11:1-2), sacrifices (Dan. 9:27), the sabbath (Matt. 24: 20), Judea (Matt. 24:16), prophets (Rev. 18:24) and Jerusalem (Rev. 3:12) in the coming period of tribulation. These things fit in with Israel, but not with the church. Why is this? Is it not because the church has been raptured to glory before the tribulation comes?
35. Why is there no mention of the church practicing baptism or observing the Lord’s Supper in the tribulation? The church was severly persecuted in the Dark Ages but its observance of the ordinances could be seen in spite of persecution. Then why not in the tribulation? It must be because the church is absent.
36. The 144,000 Israelites will preach the gospel of the kingdom (Dan. 12:3; Matt. 24:14) in the tribulation. The two witnesses will preach also (Rev. 11:3-8). Why will God use these if the church is still on earth?
37. Why does God use an angel to preach the gospel in the tribulation (Rev. 14:6-7) if the church is still on earth being perserved by God?
38. The sign in the Old Testament was circumcision. In our time it is baptism and the Lord’s Supper. In the tribulation it is the seal of God in the forehead (Rev. 7:1-4). Does this not indicate that baptism and the Lord’s Supper have already ended by the removal of the church? Is it not distinctly said that the Lord’s Supper will end when Christ comes? (1Cor. 11:26). Since it is never mentioned in the tribulation, Christ must have already come.
39. Hymenaeus and Philetus convinced some in the early churches that the resurrection was past (2Tim. 2:17-18). How could they have done this since there had been no appearance of Antichrist and the tribulation? It must have been because they expected the coming of Christ before either of these things took place.
40. The church is not in the 69 weeks of Daniel 9. Then why attempt to put it in the 70th week when Daniel himself says that these 70 weeks are determined upon his people, Israel (Dan. 9:24). Would it not make as much sense to claim the church was in the Babylonian Captivity?
41. The translation of the church is never mentioned in any passage dealing with the second coming of Christ after the tribulation.
1. Charles B. Williams, The New Testament in the Language of the People (Chicago, Illinois: Moody Press. Copyright 1937. Used with permission), p. 525.
43. The Holy Spirit speaks to the seven churches in chapters 2- 3. In chapter 4:5 the Spirit is in Heaven. Does this not suggest that the church is there with Him, since the church cannot he separated from the Holy Spirit ( John 14:16)? Remember, the language of the book of Revelation is “the Spirit and the bride” (Rev. 22:17).
44. After lengthy attention to the seven churches in chapters 2- 3, chapter 4:1 begins with these words: “After these things.” This must mean after the time of the churches and when their work in the world is over.
45. The church at Philadelphia was promised deliverance from the hour of trial, that hour which is to come upon the whole earth, to try them that dwell upon the earth (Rev. 3:10). This passage teaches the exemption of the church from the period of trial, not only from the trial during that period. She is to escape this time by Christ’s coming (Rev. 3:11) and by passing through the open door (Rev. 3:8). This is the door in Revelation 4:1 through which John passed. She will come back through that same door at the end of the tribulation (Rev. 19:11).
Post-tribers are quick to point out that these words were addressed only to the local church at Philadelphia. They say that they have no application beyond this local church which existed 1900 years ago. But they ignore the fact that the Spirit is said to speak in these seven letters to “the churches” (Rev. 3:13).
Some say that the idea “to keep from” means “to keep safe in,” and they cite such Scriptures as Galatians 1:4 and John 17:15 to support their argument. But the great company of tribulation martyrs disclosed that believers in the tribulation (post-tribers say these believers are the church) are not kept safe (Rev. 6:9-11; 7:9,14). As long as the church is in the world, it will suffer tribulation ( John 16:30). Therefore, if the church is to be kept safe, she must be removed physically.
To those who want to be contentious that the word “from” (Greek “ek” which means “out of”) can never suggest a bodily removal, I ask them to observe that it certainly does indicate a bodily removal in Matthew 12:42 and Mark 7:31.
46. Many hold like this writer that the Laodicean Church Age (Rev. 3:14-22) is a picture of the last days of the church on earth. But this seventh phase of church history does not picture a church purified and made white in the tribulation. Rather, it reveals a church rejected by Christ and lukewarm. Post-tribers cannot explain why persecution has not fanned some fire in the church or extinguished the fire completely.
It is strange indeed that some post-tribers use the seven phases of church history in Revelation 2-3 to argue against the imminent coming of Christ (See The Late Great Pre-Trib Rapture, p. 23), then when pressed by the argument from this for a pre-trib rapture, they deny the seven churches represent seven phases of church history!
47. John is seen raptured in Revelation 4:1. There is the voice of a trumpet which compares with 1Thessalonians 4:16 and 1Corinthians 15:52. There is the gathering up of 1Thessalonians 4:16; 2Thessalonians 2:1, and John 14:3. Since there is no translation of saints in Revelation 20:4-6, it must occur right here in chapter 4:1.
48. The twenty-four elders of Revelation 4:1-11; 5:1-14 in Heaven suggest the pre-tribulation rapture of the church and saints. The tribulation period does not begin until the Lamb receives the sevensealed book and breaks the seals. But the Lamb does not receive the book until crowned saints are seen in Heaven. Crowns will not be given out until Christ returns (1Pet. 5:4), then they will be given to all who love Christ’s appearing (2Tim. 4:8). Therefore, it is plainly evident that the Great Tribulation cannot possibly begin until after the rapture of the church.
49. The godly remnant of the tribulation are pictured as Israelites (Rev. 7:1-8; Isa. 11:11,16; Jer. 31:7; Ezek. 20:33-38; 37:11-28; Joel 2:32; Micah 4:7; Zech. 12:9-13:9; Mal. 3:16-17; Rom. 9:27; 11:7-28), not members of the church as maintained by the posttribulationalists.
50. The Holy Spirit speaks from Heaven in Revelation 14:13. This indicates that He has been removed with the church before the tribulation begins.
51. The word “church” is mentioned 19 times in the first three chapters of Revelation, but she is never mentioned again until she is seen coming from Heaven with Christ (Rev. 19:11-21). How can the bride come from Heaven with Christ if she is not already there?
53. “Therefore be ye also ready: for in such an hour as ye think not the Son of man cometh” (Matt. 24:44). The meaning of these words are dear. Believers are to be under the influence of a constant and general expectation of Christ’s coming. He will come when we least expect Him: “Watch therefore: for ye know not what hour your Lord doth come” (Matt. 24:42).
These verses from Matthew 24 teach three things: First, the hour of our Lord’s return is unknown to His people. Second, because we know not the exact time of His appearing, we must be in an attitude of constant expectation and watchfulness. Third, the Lord will return unexpectedly, even in such an hour as His own people “think not.”
54. “And that, knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep: for now is our salvation nearer than when we believed. The night is far spent, the day is at hand” (Rom. 13:11-12). The salvation which the apostle viewed as near was the salvation of the body at Christ’s coming (Heb. 9: 28). The day he believed was at hand was the day “wherein the Son of man cometh” (Matt. 25:13).
Why did Paul not say that the appearing of Antichrist was near? Or that the plagues of the tribulation were impending? Because he did not look for these things. He believed the coming of the Lord was imminent. The apostle sought to prepare men for the coming of Christ, not for life under the Antichrist.
55. “For I know that if this earthly tent in which I live is taken down, I have a building in heaven which comes from God, a house not built by human hands but eternal. For in this one I am sighing, because I long to put on, like a robe, my heavenly body, my future home, and if I do put it on, I shall not find myself to be disembodied. For I who am still in my tent am sighing beneath my burdens, because I do not want it to be put off but to put on the other over it, so that my dying body may be absorbed in life” (2Cor. 5:1-4).(1)
The apostle speaks of his desire to exchange his earthly body for a heavenly body. He groans in prayer that he may belong to the class who will be alive at the return of Christ. He longs for the Saviour’s coming to take place in his own lifetime and the heavenly body to arrive before the mortal dies.
I am certain that Paul knew of Christ’s prediction of Peter’s martyrdom in John 21:18-19. He must have also had knowledge of the Matthew 24 signs. But with such knowledge, he believed there was a possibility of his being alive at the Lord’s coming. He held to an imminent coming of the Lord Jesus.
Dave MacPherson, a post-triber, says:
Paul says Christ’s coming is not imminent (2Thess. 2:1-3), for apostasy and Antichrist must come first.(2)
There appears to be a vast chasm between what Dave claims the apostle said and what Paul actually did say.
56. In speaking of the translation of the saints, Paul included himself among those who would be living. To the Corinthians he wrote: “We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed” (1Cor. 15:51-52). To the Thessalonians he said: “We which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep” (1Thess. 4:15).
No fancy twisting and turning of these Scriptures can evade the fact that Paul did expect to be alive when the rapture occurred. This can only be reconciled with a pre-trib, imminent coming of Jesus Christ. While Paul did not live until the rapture, he lived in expectation of that coming every moment of his life. This is the proper attitude for believers in all ages.
57. The other inspired writers regarded the return of Christ as something which might occur at any moment. James wrote: “Be ye also patient; stablish your hearts: for the coming of the Lord draweth nigh” ( Jas. 5:8). Peter declared: “But the end of all things is at hand” (1Pet. 4:7). John prefaced the book of Revelation by telling us that it contained “things which must shortly come to pass” (Rev. 1:1).
58. The writer of Hebrews could “see the day approaching” (Heb. 10:25). The day of Christ was expected to follow this dark night of sorrow while the Bridegroom is absent. He goes on to say: “For yet a little while, and he that shall come will come, and will not tarry” (Heb. 10:37).
59. Four times in the book of Revelation Christ said: “I come quickly” (Rev. 3:11; 22:7, 20). “Quickly” is the Greek word “taehu” which means “speedily.” These words can-not successfully be reconciled with a post-trib coming which has signs to announce it. It will only fit in with a pre-trib, imminent coming of the Saviour.
If the language in the Scriptures I have given do not teach an imminent coming of Jesus Christ, then language is meaningless and the Bible is Devil-inspired foolery. These verses are irrefutable testimony that the early Christians believed in an imminent coming. His coming is imminent till He actually does come. At any moment we may hear a voice like a trumpet saying: “Come up hither.” Before the next hour the Bridegroom may say to the bride: “Rise up, my love, my fair one, and come away” (Song of Solomon 2:10). In an instant, in the twinkling of an eye, we will be gathered unto Christ in the air.
1. Charles B. Williams, The New Testament in the Language of the People (Chicago, Illinois: Moody Press. Copyright 1937. Used with permission), p. 398.
2. Dave MacPherson, The Late Great Pre-Trib Rapture (Kansas City, Missouri: Heart of America Bible Society Copyright 1975. Used with permission of Logos International), p. 23.
The word “delivereth” is the Greek word “rhuomai” and its meaning is very significant. M. R. Vincent defines it as meaning
to draw to one’s self.(1)
Thayer says it means
to draw to one’s self, to rescue, to deliver.(2)
The Analytical Greek Lexicon defines it as
to drag out of danger, to rescue, save.(3)
William A. Stevens contends that it means
an act of rescue, by an exertion of power.(4)
The New Bible Commentary gives this comment:
This might be rendered more personally ‘Jesus, our deliverer from the coming wrath,’ i.e., the divine judgment to be poured upon the earth at the end of the age.”(5)
It is also worthy of observation that the apostle says the church will be delivered “from” the wrath to come. This is the Greek word “apo’” in the best Greek texts which means “away from; departure; distance of time or place; avoidance.”
Christ will draw the dead and living saints unto Himself by an exertion of His power and rescue them away from the wrath to come. Jesus will come to snatch His own away before the trumpets of wrath begin.
61. “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: 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” (1Thess. 4:16-17).
Here is a coming of Christ which will result in the resurrection of dead saints and a translation of living saints. These saints shall meet Christ in the air; they shall be caught up to meet the Saviour in the clouds. There is no mention of any sign which will announce this coming, nor are the nations on earth said to see Christ. There is no reference to a resurrection of tribulation saints. Nothing is said about the battle of Armageddon or Christ riding a white horse.
There is nothing which indicates that Christ and these come immediately back to earth. In the light of John 14:3, I must conclude that they go to the Father’s house where they are seen in Revelation chapters 4-5. Why would Christ take them up into the clouds and then bring them right back? This makes no sense at all to this writer.
With reference to 1Thessalonians 4:16-17, Kenneth S. Wuest writes:
Paul says that we will be caught up. The Greek word translated ‘caught up’ has a number of meanings which give us some important information regarding the Rapture. The word is harpazo. It means ‘to carry off by force.’ And this gives us the reason why the Lord Jesus will descend to 6,403 feet above the earth. Satan and his kingdom of demons occupy this lower atmosphere. Paul speaks of him as ‘the prince of the power of the air’ (Eph. 2:2), and uses the Greek word aer which speaks of the lower, denser atmosphere in which we live. The demons inhabit this portion of the atmosphere around the earth in order that they may prey upon Christian believers. They attempt to disrupt the workings of the Church, spoil the testimony and service of Christians, and prevent the unsaved from receiving the Lord Jesus as Saviour. They are trying to insulate the Church from heaven. At the time of the Rapture, they will attempt to keep the Church from going up to heaven with the Lord Jesus. Jesus of Nazareth will exert His omnipotent power in taking the saints with Him to heaven through the kingdoms of Satan, and against his power and that of his demons.
The word harpazo also means ‘to rescue from the danger of destruction.’ That means that the Church will be caught up to heaven before the seven year period of great tribulation occurs on earth. By the Church here we do not mean the visible organized present-day church composed of believers and unbelievers, but only those in the visible church whose Christian profession will stand the test of actual possession of salvation. The nominal Christian, that person merely identified with the visible church by membership, and not possessing a living faith in the Lord Jesus as Saviour, will be left on earth to go through the terrible times of the Great Tribulation.”(6)
62. But does not 1Thessalonians 5:1-4 teach that the church will be overtaken by the day of the Lord, the time of the tribulation?
Paul begins this passage with a statement that it was unnecessary for him to tell the church of the times and seasons of the rapture mentioned in the preceding verses. There was no need since those who watch do not need to be told when the hour will come, for they are always ready.
In verses 2-3 he relates how the day of the Lord, with its accompanying terrible destruction, will come suddenly and unexpectedly. This sudden destruction will come when the unsaved men on earth are saying peace and safety. This could hardly be the time near the end of the Great Tribulation. It must be at the beginning of it, for the destruction takes these unsaved people by surprise.
The careful reader will observe the change of pronouns from “ye,” “you,” and “yourselves” of verse 1 and 2 to “they” and “them” of verse 3. The destruction overtakes the unsaved, not the members of the church.
In verse 4 Paul says: “But ye, brethren, are not in darkness, that that day should overtake you as a thief.” Does he mean that the destruction mentioned here will overtake the church and that they will be expecting it? What destruction is under consideration here? It is a destruction from God which takes the wicked by surprise. If the church will experience the destruction here, then she will experience the wrath of God during this time. How can this be if the church is preserved from the wrath of God as post-tribers say?
In verse 5 it is written: “Ye are all the children of light, and the children of the day: we are not of the night, nor of darkness.” These words indicate that believers in the church belong to the time designated as “day” in contrast to “the night” in which the wrath comes.
In verse 9 the apostle says: “For God hath not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ.” This must be a reference to the future wrath already mentioned in 1Thessalonians 1:10. The church is appointed to have their bodies redeemed and to deliverance from the coming wrath on earth. They will be delivered by Christ’s coming: “Who died for us, that whether we wake or sleep, we should live together with him” (1Thess. 5:10).
63. After Paul’s first epistle, the Thessalonians encountered great “persecutions” and ‘tribulations” (2Thess. 1:4). Since they had been led to believe in a pre-tribulational coming of Christ to deliver them from tribulation, they were deeply “troubled” (2Thess. 1:7; 2:2). If they understood that they were to be overtaken by the day of the Lord in his first epistle, then they would not have been troubled at all by these things.
64. Paul’s entire second epistle to them was written to reaffirm his pre-tribulational rapture and to assure this church that she had not entered the day of the Lord. In 2Thessalonians 2:3 he wrote: “Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition.”
The word translated “‘taking away” is the Greek word “apostasia.” A footnote in The New Berkeley Version of the Bible says that this word can mean “departure.’’(7) The Tyndale Bible, Coverdale Bible, Cranmer’s version, Geneva Bible, and Beza’s version of the sixteenth century render tile term in 2Thessalonians 2:3 as “departing.” A footnote in The Amplifiied Bible, says a possible rendering of apostasia is “departure.”
Kenneth S. Wuest well remarks on this:
In our II Thessanlonian passage, Paul is speaking of the Great Tribulation. Someone had written a letter to the Thessanlonian church, stating that the period of the Great Tribulation was then present, and had forged Paul’s name to the document. The great apostle calms their fears by saying that that day cannot come until ‘a falling away’ (A.V.) comes first. The Greek word translated ‘falling away’ has as one of its meanings, ‘a departure.’ The definite article appears before it in the original text. This word is used in other places in the New Testament, and in these places the context indicates that from which the departure is made. But here there is no such information. It follows that this particular departure must have been in the teaching of Paul to the Thessanlonian saints, and was known by them and him. Paul taught them about the Rapture in 1Thessalonians 4:13-18 . . . The words ‘falling away’ are an interpretation of the Greek word, not a translation.(8)
“Apostasia” is a form of the Greek word “aphistemi” which means “departure or removal from,”(9) or “to draw away” or “to separate one’s self, to part.’’(10)
Rolland D. McCune writes:
The noun ‘departure’ is used but twice in the New Testament — in 2Thessalonians 2:3 and in Acts 21:21. In Acts it has the idea of religious apostasy from Moses. The verb form is used fifteen times in the New Testament (Lk. 2:37; 4:13; 8:13; 13:27; Acts 5:37, 38; 12:10; 15:38; 19:9; 22:29; 2Cor. 12:8; 1Tim. 4:1; 6:5; 2Tim. 2:19; Heb. 3:12). Of these, only three refer to religious apostasy (Lk. 8:13—in time of temptation fall away;’ 1Tim. 4:1 — ‘some shall depart from the faith;’ Heb. 3:12 — ‘in departing from the living God’). At other times it means to depart from the temple (Lk. 2:37), to depart from one’s presence (Acts 12:10; 15:38), to depart from wicked men (1Tim. 6:5), and the like.(11)
What departure must come first before the Antichrist can be revealed? A departure from the faith or a departure of the saints before the tribulation? The answer is found in the context which is clearly a departure of the saints. The departure cannot mean the total apostasy of the churches, because then there would be none left to meet the Lord when He comes. If the departure of the saints must come first, then there must be a pre-tribulational removal of the church before Antichrist is revealed.
65. In 2Thessalonians 2:4-12 there is a lengthy discourse on Antichrist and the tribulation. Those who suffer under the man of sin are said to be “they” and “them,” not “we” and “us.” Those who suffer are said to be unsaved and to perish. Such cannot be said of believers in local churches.
Why did Paul pass up such a good opportunity to set forth the post-trib doctrine? Why did he not say somewhere in this: “Let us prepare to suffer under the reign of the man of sin.” The answer is simple enough for anyone to see. Paul was a pre-triber.
66. Satan would have long ago consummated his evil program for the world, if the Restrainer had not been present. “And now ye know what withholdeth that he might be revealed in his time. For the mystery of iniquity doeth already work: only he who now letteth will let, until he be taken out of the way” (2Thess. 2:6-7).
Since Satan is second to God in power, his program can only be restrained by God. This Restrainer must be the Holy Spirit who is the active executor of the Godhead during this age (2Cor. 3:8). Nor can we doubt that much of this restraining is done through the church which He indwells (1Cor. 3:16) and came to empower on the day of Pentecost. If He is to be “taken out of the way,” then so must the church be taken out since the saints in churches cannot be separated from the Holy Spirit ( John 14:16).
This passage is a serious problem for post-tribers. They usually run to and fro in the Greek to explain away its meaning. Some make the restrainer Satan, but Satan does not work against himself (Matt. 12:22-29). Others say it is Christians, but a Christian cannot restrain Satan. Still others would make it the Roman Empire, but this cannot be as the ten kings of the Roman Empire are said to give their kingdoms to Antichrist (Rev. 17:12-13). Better informed posttribers admit that God is the only one who can restrain Satan, but they avoid saying it is the Holy Spirit to save doctrinal embarrassment.
Post-tribers often say that the Greek here should read: “... until he (Antichrist) comes out of the midst.” By this they would make it appear that the restrainer simply ceases to restrain, and then Satan brings forth Antichrist. Thus they would eliminate any notion of the rapture in this passage.
There is a very good grammatical reason for rejecting this posttrib argument. The second “he” in verse 7 would normally refer to the same pronoun earlier in the verse rather than to the pronouns “him” and “‘his” in verse 6. It is the Restrainer who is taken out of the world or to come out of the midst.
1. M. R. Vincent, Word Studies in the New Testament (Wilmington, Delaware: Associated Publishers and Authors, 1972), p 933.
2. Joseph Henry Thayer, Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan Publishing House, 1975), p. 564.
3. The Analytical Greek Lexicon (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan Publishing House, 1975), p. 360.
4. An American Commentary on the New Testament (Valley Forge, Pennsylvania: The Judson Press. Used with permission), Vol. V, p. 26.
5. The New Bible Commentary: Revised (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Win. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co. Copyright 1970 by Inter-Varsity Press, London, England. Used with permission), p. 1156.
6. Kenneth S. Wuest, Word Studies in the Greek New Testament (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., Used with permission). Vol. III, pp. 138-139.
7. The Modern Language Bible: The New Berkeley Version in Modern English (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan Publishing House. Copyright 1969. Used with permission), p. 227
8. Kenneth S. Wuest, Word Studies In the Greek New Testament (Grand Rapids, Mich. Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co. Used with permission), Vol.lll, pp. 138-139.
9. The Classic Greek Dictionary (New York, New York: Hinds & Noble, Pub-lishers, 1901), p. 93.
10. The Analytical Greek Lexicon (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan Publish-ing House, 1975), p. 46
11. Rolland D. McCune, Central Bible Quarterly (Minneapolis, Minnesota: Central Baptist Theological Seminary of Minneapolis, Winter 1975), Vol. 18, pp.
68. Noah and his family went into the ark and God closed them up seven days before the flood (Gen. 7:10). Noah and his family were safe from the flood in the ark. They could not even see the ungodly without as the only window was in the top of the ark (Gen. 6:16). Like Noah, the church will be called out by the Lord into a place prepared for them during the seven years tribulation ( John 14:3). Christ said His second coming would be like the days of Noah (Luke 17:26-27). There is nothing said about Noah suffering in the ark at the hands of the ungodly. Noah was safe from the wrath of man and God.
69. Lot was taken out of Sodom before the fire came down (Gen. 19:17-24). According to Jesus, His second advent will be like it was in the days of Lot (Luke 17:28-29). As Lot “went out of Sodom,” so the church will be taken out of the way.
70. Joseph first took his Gentile bride unto himself (Gen. 41:45) before the seven years of famine (Gen. 41:54). Christ will take his bride out before the seven years of famine. During the famine Joseph made himself known to his brethren (Gen. 45:1-4), just as Christ will reveal Himself to the Jewish remnant during the tribulation.
71. Moses took his Gentile wife in marriage (Ex. 4:20) before he sent the plagues upon Egypt. Likewise, Christ will take His wife unto Himself before He sends the plagues of the tribulation and overthrows Antichrist of which Pharaoh was a type.
72. The priests in the O.T. were shut up seven days in the tabernacle during their consecration (Lev. 8:33,35). Even so the church and saints will be shut up in the heavenly tabernacle for seven years during which they will be consecrated as king-priests.
74. The ascension of Christ was twofold ( John 20:17; Acts 1:9). One phase of His ascension was secret; the other visible. Acts 1:11 tells us that His descension will be like His ascension. This indicates a secret phase and a visible phase of His return.
75. There is a coming of Christ which will surprise some who are building houses, eating and drinking, and marrying wives (Luke 17:26-30). This scene will not fit the closing days of the tribulation. It fits very well with a pre-trib coming.
76. There is an unexpected coming of Christ (Matt. 24:42-44) which will find some of His children in an embarrassing situation (1John 2:28). This can hardly be a post-trib coming as some suppose.
The World Vision Magazine in its December, 1974, issue said: “In the remaining 70’s the church will have to get over the rapture fever and wrestle with such issues as the nature of the gospel and the ways in which God intends His people to participate in the fulfillment of His purpose in the latter days.” Those who believe such a doctrine will be ashamed before Christ at His secret coming — a coming they denied in their churches and religious papers.
77. There is a coming of Christ like a thief to the church (Matt. 24:43-44; Rev. 3:3). A thief does not announce his coming. He does not come to stay. He takes away the jewels and the best items in the house. This fits perfectly with a pre-trib rapture, the secret coming of Christ for His saints.
78. Since there is a coming on a day and hour which no man knows (Matt. 24:36), this coming must be distinguished from the coming “immediately after the tribulation of those days” (Matt. 24:29).
79. In Matthew 24 the two phases of Christ’s coming are set forth. There is a sudden coming: “For as the lightening cometh out of the east, and shineth even unto the west; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be. For wheresoever the carcase is, there will the eagles be gathered together” (Matt. 24:27-28). This coming is like the lightening; it takes place in the twinkling of an eye. Under the figure of eagles gathering together to a carcase, Christ pictures the gathering of the saints at the rapture (1Thess. 4:17; 2Thess. 2:1).
This phase of Christ’s coming will separate the godly from the ungodly: “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. Watch therefore: for ye know not what hour your Lord doth come” (Matt. 24:40-42). This coming will surprise post-tribers (Matt. 24:48-51).
After the coming like lightening in Matthew 24:27-28, verses 29-30 say: “Immediately after the tribulation of those days shall the sun be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken: And then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven . . .” There is pictured in the verses following a regathering of Israel after the Lord’s coming by the sound of a trumpet by the angels. There is no mention of any translation of the living saints. Those who see the Son of man and mourn are on earth, not in the air. They are the wicked Gentiles and Israel who are on earth.
80. The two phases of Christ’s coming are seen in Matthew 25. In the first part of the chapter our Lord comes as a bridegroom to be married in a marriage chamber (Matt. 24:1-13). In this phase He meets the virgins. In the latter part of the chapter He comes as a king to sit upon His throne and to execute judgment. At this phase He meets the nations (Matt. 25:31-46).
81. The comfort to be derived from Christ’s coming (1Thess. 4:18) can only be properly reconciled with the pre-tribulational view. If post-tribulationism is true, then we should be looking for the tribulation instead of the coming of Christ. There could be little comfort in a post-trib coming as many will die a martyr’s death and not be alive.
82. The exhortation to look for “the glorious appearing” of Christ for His own (Titus 2:13) loses its significance if the tribulation comes first. We should be looking for the Antichrist or the events of the tribulation.
83. The admonition to purify ourselves in view of the return of the Redeemer has force only if His coming is imminent (1John 3:2-3; 2:28). If the church goes through the tribulation as post-tribers say, then she is supposed to be already pure by the time of the posttrib rapture.
84. All believers must be judged (2Cor. 5:10; Rom. 14:10). This presents a problem to post-tribers. They believe the church will be raptured to meet Christ in the air at the end of the tribulation, and then she will return immediately with Him to earth. They are forced either to ignore the Judgment Seat of Christ or contend that it is accomplished in connection with the judgment in Matthew 25. Pre-tribers have seven years for this to take place.
85. The coming of Christ with His bride (Rev. 19:7-10) must be preceeded by the coming for His bride (Matt. 25:1-13; 1Thess. 4:15-17).
86. Tribulation saints enter the Millennium in literal bodies (Matt. 25:31-34), have children (Isa. 65:23; Zech. 8:5), and carry on ordinary occupations (Isa. 65:20-25). How can this be if all the saved are translated or resurrected at His coming at the end of the tribulation (1Cor. 15:22-23)? There would be no sheep nations if the post-trib doctrine were true. All the saved would have glorified bodies.
Tribulation saints in the Millennium in literal bodies can only be explained by a pre-tribulation rapture. We hold that all that are Christ’s will be raptured to glory before the tribulation. This leaves the tribulation saints in literal bodies to enter the Millennium.
87. If the translation of the church took place in connection with the coming of Christ at the end of the tribulation, there would be no need for the Judgment of the Nations (Matt. 25:31-46). There would be no saved nations, if the translation of the church had just occurred. Nor would there be any saved brethren — Israelites — since all would have ceased their nationality and be made like Christ (1John 3:1-2). There would only be goat nations. But Matthew 25 deals with saved sheep nations, unsaved goat nations, and brethren (Christ’s brethren according to the flesh, Israel) who are in literal bodies.
88. The separation of the saved from the unsaved in Israel’s judgment (Ezek. 20:34-38) after the second coming of Christ to earth would be unnecessary if the saved had previously been separated from the unsaved by translation.
89. At the time of the rapture the saints meet Christ in the air (1Thess. 4:13-18; 2Thess. 2:1), while at the second phase they return to the Mount of Olives (Zech. 14:4-5; Jude 1:14-15; 1Thess. 3:13).
90. At the rapture Christ comes to glorify the saints (Col. 3:4), at the coming to earth He comes with the saints already glorified (2Thess. 1:10). Notice the words of 2Thessalonians 1:10: “When He shall come to be glorified in His saints.” This expression is in the future tense; but it is the subjunctive aorist and should read: “When He shall have come to be glorified in His saints.” The Lord will not take vengeance on the wicked till after He has come and glorified His saints.
91. Christ comes the first time at the rapture as a thief (Rev. 3:3), and the second time at the coming to earth as King of kings (Rev. 17:14).
92. Christ’s coming at the rapture concerns only the saved (1Cor. 15:23; 1Thess. 4:14-18), those who look for Him (Heb. 9:28). His second phase at the end of the tribulation involves all nations (Rev. 1:7; Zech. 12:10; Matt. 24:30).
93. Christ comes to reward His servants at the rapture (Rev. 22:12; 1Cor. 4:5; 2Tim. 4:8). His coming to earth is to punish unbelievers (2Thess. 1:6-9; Jude 1:14-15; Rev. 19:11-12).
94. The rapture of the saints must occur before Antichrist can be revealed (2Thess. 2:1-3), while Antichrist is destroyed by the second phase of our Lord’s coming (2Thess. 2:8-10).
95. His first phase is salvation for the saints (Heb. 9:28); His second phase is destruction to sinners (2Thess. 1:9; 2:8).
96. Since Christ comes for the bride before He comes as a warring king, there must be at least a year between the rapture and the coming to earth for Deuteronomy 24:5 forbids a newly married man to go to war for a year. This destroys the zip of post-tribers and favors the pre-trib position.
97. The morning star comes before the sun. The rapture coming is spoken of symbolically as “the morning star” (Rev. 2:28) which appears in the darkest part of the night when the world is asleep and only a few who are watching for it see it. The second phase of His coming is spoken of symbolically as the rising of “the sun of righteousness” (Mal. 4:2) which floods the world with light.
98. Christ comes to deliver the church from the tribulation at the rapture (1Thess. 1:10). He comes to the earth to deliver Israel from their sins and the reign of Antichrist (Rom. 11:25-29).
99. The church is exhorted to look for “the glorious appearing” of the Son of God (Phil. 3:20-21; 1Thess. 1:10; Jas. 4:7,8,9), while Jewish believers in the tribulation are directed to look for signs (Matt. 24:29-34; Luke 21:25-32).
James M. Gray, R. A. Torrey, A. C. Gaebelein, W. B. Riley, I. M. Haldeman, H. A. Ironside, John Darby, C. I. Scofield, Clarence Larkin, D. B. Eastep, A. W. Pink, Hal Lindsey, A. J. Gordon, J. R. Graves, Hart Armstrong, E. Schuyler English, Paul J. Bretschneider, Gerald B. Stanton, Leon Wood, M. L. Moser, Jr., William L. Pettingill, L. S. Chafer, John F. Walvoord, Theodore H. Epp, Oliver B. Greene, J. D. Pentecost, J. Harold Smith, William K. Harrison, George Sayles Bishop, Hudson Taylor, G. H. Pember, Sir Robert Anderson, E. W. Bullinger, William Kelly, D. M. Panton, G. E. Jones, J. E. Cobb, E. G. Cook, Willard Willis, John R. Gilpin, Kenneth S. Wuest, George W. Dollar, William E. Ashbrook, Thomas P. Simmons, E. C. Gillentine, John Wesley White, D. L. Moody, D. W. Whittle, Lehman Strauss, Roy Mason, Guy Duty, C. H. Mackintosh, Rolland D. McCune, John E. Douglas, Sr., Wilbur M. Smith, Charles C. Ryrie, Clarence M. Mason, R. V. Clearwaters, Robert P. Lightner, Alva J. McCain, John C. Whitcomb, Jr., Charles R. Smith, Herman A. Hoyt, Erich Sauer, Louis Talbot, Louis S. Bauman, Charles J. Woodbridge, J. Vernon McGee, William F. Culbertson, Robert T. Ketcham, M. R. DeHaan, Richard DeHaan, Paul Van Gorder, Charles Lee Feinberg, James Mont-gomery Boice, Allen A. MacRea, Homer A. Kent, Jr., Paul Lee Tan, J. F. Strombeck, Merrill F. Unger, Rene Pache, Charles H. Stevens, H. C. Thiessen, T. Pierson, H. M. Parsons, James Brooks, Richard Dunham, W. E. Blackstone, Robert Gromacki, Earl D. Radmacher, Thomas D. McCall, Douglas MacCorkle, Wendell P. Johnston, Willard M. Aldrich, Lester K. Pipkin, Alden A. Gannett, James P. Chrichton, Robert T. Benton, Stuart Lease, Leslie P. Madison, U. A. Doiron, Martin O. Massinger, Homer T. Payne, George W. Winston, Elton Wilson, Walter K. Price, Thomas S. McCall, Zola Levitt, E. Harold Henderson, R. I. Humherd, M. L. Moser, Sr., C. M. Ward, L. R. Shelton, W. A. Criswell, Hoyle Bowman, J. R. Rice, W. R. White, David A. Warriner, Jr. Walter Staten, W. E. Sampson.
Grace Bible Baptist ChurchBR>
26080 Wax Road
Denham Springs, LA 70726