I have learned a lot from reading your column every week. I hope you can help me with some confusion I have about the Rapture. My wife and I are confused about the Pre-Tribulation Rapture, the Mid-Tribulation Rapture and what I think is called, a Pre-Wrath Rapture. We have read so many conflicting things. Can you clarify what they all mean. We don’t want to miss the Rapture!
Thank you for your letter. I will do my best to clarify your concerns. The Pre-Tribulation Rapture doctrine teaches that all Christians will be raptured before the Tribulation begins. The major reason that most Christians hold to this doctrine is that the Bible clearly teaches that all true born-again believers are not destined for His wrath, which is poured out during the Tribulation:
“For God appointed us not unto wrath, but unto the obtaining of salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Thessalonians 5:9).
The context of the passage is not the wrath of hell, but of some other form of wrath. The only other form of wrath is what God pours out on the unsaved during the Tribulation. If Christians were to go into the Tribulation they would suffer the wrath of God. His wrath is poured out with the breaking of the Sixth Seal (Revelation 6:12-17).
If true Christians were destined to go through the Tribulation, there would be no reason to commission 144,000 men of the twelve tribes of Israel to preach the gospel. The 144,000 witnesses are empowered by God immediately after the wrath of God begins to pour out His wrath (Revelation 7:1-8). At that point all the Church Age Christians will have been raptured off the planet, and there would be no one to share the gospel with the lost except for God’s 1444,000 anointed Jewish men.
Noah and Lot are evidences for the Pre-Tribulation Rapture. Noah and his family is also a type of the Church. They were spared death by being in the ark (Hebrews 11:7) when the flood came and destroyed all life outside the ark (Genesis 7:21-23).
Lot and his family are another type of the Church. When Lot hesitated to leave Sodom, the Lord had mercy on him; His angels brought Lot, his wife and their two daughters out of Sodom just before it was destroyed (Genesis 19:16).
Another evidence of the Pre-Tribulation Rapture is the promise that was given to the Church of Philadelphia:
“Because thou didst keep the word of my patience, I also will keep thee from the hour of trial, that hour which is to come upon the whole world, to try them that dwell upon the earth.” (Revelation 3:10).
The “hour of trial” is a reference to the Tribulation. The church of the Philadelphia era was given the promise of not going through that time of testing. In Revelation chapters two and three the seven churches that were in the area of modern-day Turkey were given special messages.
They were rebuked for sin, but also given promises. The seven literal churches are symbolic of seven periods of the Church Age. The rebukes and promises to them also apply to Christians of those seven eras.
We are living in the Philadelphia era which started around 1792 with the open door of missions, when William Cary sailed for India. The promise of being kept from the “hour of trial” was made to the church of the Philadelphia era (to us).
The Church is mentioned in the first three chapters of the book of Revelation. But then in chapter four, verse one the Scripture says, “After these things I saw.” What comes “after these things” is the Rapture of the Church. A command is given to John, “Come up hither.” That is the command that the archangel gives at the Rapture (1 Thessalonians 4:16).
A serious problem with the Mid-Tribulation Rapture teaching is that it is said to take place after the wrath of God is poured out upon the world. The advocates of this theory claim that the statement concerning rewards being given to the servants, prophets and saints of God at the middle of the Tribulation—is evidence that the Rapture must take place at that time:
“And the four and twenty elders, who sit before God on their thrones, fell upon their faces and worshipped God, saying, We give thee thanks, O Lord God, the Almighty, who art and who wast; because thou hast taken thy great power, and didst reign. And the nations were wroth, and thy wrath came, and the time of the dead to be judged, and the time to give their reward to thy servants the prophets, and to the saints, and to them that fear thy name, the small and the great; and to destroy them that destroy the earth” (Revelation 11:16-18).
That passage is not evidence of a Mid-Tribulation Rapture. It is only evidence that Christians will be given their rewards at that time. The Mid-Trib view assumes that rewards are given to Christians immediately after the Rapture. It is a weak argument for the timing of the Rapture, and it is the only argument the Mid-Tribulation Rapture advocates have. It also ignores the clear statement by the Lord that Christians are not destined to go through the wrath of God that is poured out during the Tribulation (1 Thessalonians 1:9).
Another confusing doctrine is that of the Post-Tribulation position which you should be aware of. It has the same problems as the Mid-Tribulation Rapture. If Christians actually went through the Tribulation they would suffer the wrath of God. Another problem with the Post-Tribulation Rapture teaching, if it were true—there would be no one to enter the millennial kingdom in mortal bodies.
The apostle Paul said that the dead in Christ will be resurrected and given immortal bodies, and the living will have their mortal bodies changed into immortal ones (1 Corinthians 15:52). The unsaved are judged by Christ when He returns, and sent to their eternal punishment (Matthew 25:31-46).
Scripture definitively teaches some people will enter into the millennial kingdom with mortal bodies. Those who were saved during the Tribulation are the ones who will enter into the Millennium.
Another important point to consider is this: At the end of the 1000-year millennial kingdom, even with the Lord ruling and reigning the inconceivable will happen—a huge number of people will actually rebel and reject Him. But when they do, God will quickly send down a fire from heaven and “devour them” (Revelation 20:7-9).
If no one enters the millennial kingdom in mortal bodies, and only Christians enter who have been given immortal bodies, then some believers would have to reject their belief in Jesus Christ, and join the devil in his final rebellion.
If that is true, it would mean that the doctrine of eternal security of believers is not biblical. It would also mean that a great number of Christians would lose their salvation and be cast into the lake of fire. That belief must be rejected because it is clearly unbiblical.
Numerous promises in Scripture show that everyone who is truly born-again by the Spirit of God and trusts in Jesus Christ to save them—will be saved eternally and cannot lose their salvation (John 3:16; 24; 6:37-40; 10:28-29; Romans 6:23; 8:37-39; 1 John 5:10-13).
The truly saved believers should not be confused with those who are Christians in name only. Professing Christians who go through the motions but are not genuine Christians will be left behind to experience the wrath of God.
The Post-Tribulation Rapture doctrine cannot be supported biblically. Many passages tell us that once we believe in Jesus Christ we have eternal life (Matthew 25:46; John 3:16, 36; 5:24; 1 John 5:11-13). And there is no condemnation for us (John 5:24; Romans 8:1); and we will reign with Jesus Christ forever (Revelation 22:5).
The Pre-Wrath Rapture position is also not possible because those who teach it claim the wrath of God is poured out in the last few months of the Tribulation. The Bible is clear that God’s wrath is poured out early in the Tribulation with the breaking of the Sixth Seal (Revelation 6:12-17).
The wrath of God is poured out on the unsaved with the breaking of the Sixth Seal. The wrath that is mentioned later in Revelation is additional wrath that is also not meant for born-again believers of the Church Age.
“And I saw another sign in heaven, great and marvellous, seven angels having seven plagues, which are the last, for in them is finished the wrath of God.” (Revelation 15:1).
The seven bowl judgments are not the total wrath of God; they are the final judgments of the wrath of God. The premise of the Pre-Wrath Tribulation Rapture doctrine teaches that Christians will be raptured out just before the bowl judgments are poured out. That idea is a hypothetical belief that cannot be substantiated anywhere in the Bible.
The Pre-Wrath Tribulation doctrine also contradicts Scripture because the teaching states that millions of Christians will endure most of God’ This teaching cannot be substantiated with Scripture. It is simply not true. The Word of God clearly states that no Christian of the Church Age will suffer any of God’s wrath (1 Thessalonians 5:9).
Tom, I know all of this can sound confusing, only because all of the teachings that go against a Pre-Tribulation Rapture are erroneous and do not make sense. Rest assured that all true born-again believers will be raptured before the Tribulation, which is getting closer every day. Even so come, Lord Jesus!
In God’s love,
“ 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 that are alive, that are left, shall together with them be caught up in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord” (1 Thessalonians 4:16-17).