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“The Pre - Tribulation Rapture of the Church”
by Art Sadlier   
December 1st, 2016

The scriptures clearly teach that the church, the body of Christ, will be caught up to meet Christ in the air and so be forever with the Lord (1 Thessalonians 4:13-18; 1 Corinthians 15:51-52).

The scriptures also teach that this catching up, this rapture, will take place prior to the tribulation period.

Paul teaches us about the pre-tribulation rapture in 1 Thessalonians chapter five. The context of this chapter is the coming Day of the Lord, or the tribulation period, and the wrath of God that will accompany it. We see this context in verses 2-3. “For yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so cometh as a thief in the night. For when they shall say, Peace and safety; then sudden destruction cometh upon them, as travail upon a woman with child; and they shall not escape.” Paul says that some will not escape this time of tribulation and wrath. In the succeeding verses (4-8) Paul gives an exhortation to believers to be alert and to be watching for this coming day of the Lord’s wrath. It is in that context that Paul immediately says in verse 9, “For God hath not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ.” That is unmistakeably teaching the pre-tribulation rapture of the church.

This is confirmed in the very next verse (10) where he says, “Who died for us, that, whether we wake or sleep, we should live together with him.”  The phrase, “whether we wake or sleep,” is a clear reference to the preceding chapter (verses 13-17) where the topic is the rapture of believers, both those awake (alive) and those who sleep (dead). Paul could not have been clearer; he teaches the pre-tribulation rapture of the church.

In 1 Thessalonians 2 Paul continues to teach the pre-tribulation rapture of the church. The context in verse 1 is undeniably the rapture, “Now we beseech you, brethren, by the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and by our gathering together unto him.” Paul has established in 1 Thessalonians the concept of the rapture and the saints being gathered unto Christ. 1 Thessalonians 4: 13-16 is clearly referring to the rapture, verse 17 refers to our gathering unto Christ, “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.” So we are reminded again that the topic of 1 Thessalonians 5 is the rapture.

So then the topic of 1 Thessalonians 2:1 is the rapture. In verse 2 it seems that some had spread the word that the rapture had already taken place, they even went so far as to say that Paul himself had stated that. “That ye be not soon shaken in mind, or be troubled, neither by spirit, nor by word, nor by letter as from us, as that the day of Christ is at hand.

In verse 3 Paul says that is not true, the rapture has not yet taken place. Then he proceeds to give a reason as to why the rapture could not have taken place at this point in time. “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.” Paul says that before the day of the Lord can come, something has to take place first. That something is, “Except there come a falling away first.” The words falling away can also be translated apostatize, the word means to depart from a present position or place. We relate this to the rapture because the context in verse 1 is the rapture, “Our gathering together unto him.” Therefore Paul is teaching that the day of the Lord cannot come until after the rapture has taken place.

There is a great falling away or apostasy that is to come. That great apostasy takes place after the coming of Antichrist. We see this in verses 9-11 of this chapter, “Even him, whose coming is after the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders, And with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved. And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie.”

This great apostasy is brought on by the Antichrist himself with the help of God who gives deception to those who have turned away from the truth. The falling away in verse 3 is the rapture, the falling away in verses 9-11 is the great apostasy, departing from the truth.

This apostasy is detailed in verse 4, Who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, shewing himself that he is God.” The world is deceived into accepting the claims of Antichrist, that he is actually Christ (that is the great apostasy). That apostasy cannot take place until Antichrist appears on the scene.

This apostasy is not taking place at this time. What we are seeing is the preparation for this great apostasy. We are seeing a great departure from sound doctrine which is setting the stage for the coming of Antichrist. We tremble as we see those who formerly held to sound doctrine now departing from it. The words of 1Timothy 4:1 are now being fulfilled, “Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils.”

How tragic, to know the truth and to fall away from it. The warning is to those who are involved in churches where this process of neglecting doctrine is taking place. Come out of such places as fast as your feet can carry you.

In Revelation 3:10 John teaches the pre-tribulation rapture. “Because thou hast kept the word of my patience, I also will keep thee from the hour of temptation, which shall come upon all the world, to try them that dwell upon the earth.” John is definitely speaking about the tribulation period here. This is not referring to the great white throne judgment, the great white throne judgment is a place where individuals stand before God and are sentenced by God. This not referring to the sheep and the goat judgment, here again individuals stand before Christ and are sentenced.

This judgment is clearly a judgment that falls on men while they are living on the earth.Which shall come upon all the world,” this is a judgment like the past judgment of the flood, it is to come on all the world. To try them that dwell upon the earth,” this could be no other than the tribulation period. This is not the wrath of judgment that sends men into hell, though that may well happen when this judgment is over. This is a wrath that is poured out on men on the earth, with the intent to try or test their souls. The implication is that some may pass the test, for example the tribulation saints. A test always implies the possibility of passing the test.

This promise is given to the church of Philadelphia, which is the last-days church that is contemporary with the Laodicean church, also of the last days. It is given to the church which will be in the world when the rapture takes place.

We have another indication that the rapture will take place prior to the tribulation period, it is found in Luke 21:28. “And when these things begin to come to pass, then look up, and lift up your heads; for your redemption draweth nigh.

In Matthew 24 Jesus gave the signs that would precede the tribulation period and His second coming. He lists some signs which He calls the beginning of sorrows or the beginning signs (verse 8). After the beginning signs the events of the tribulation period unfold.

That sheds light on our Lord’s words in Luke 21:28, he says to believers, when you see the beginning signs you will be redeemed or rescued. Believers have already have had their souls redeemed. Christ is here talking about redemption from the tribulation judgment on the world. The tribulation is the context and topic of Luke 21. When you see the beginning signs, not all the signs completely fulfilled, just the first ones. The rapture will take place.

Today, as we see the foreshadowing of the events of the coming tribulation period, we know that the trumpet is soon to sound.

Further evidence for the pre-tribulation rapture of the church is found in the teaching of the scriptures concerning the fact that there yet remains two comings of Christ.

In the first of those two comings Christ will come to the clouds of the sky, where He will catch us up to meet Him in the sky, and return to heaven with Him. “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” (1Thessalonians 4:16-17). We have the same promise in John 14:3, “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.”

We have also presented in scripture another coming of Christ to the earth which is separate and distinct from the rapture. This second coming is at a different time and in a different manner. Instead of coming to the clouds and returning to heaven with the believers, He will come to the earth and His feet will stand on the Mount of Olives, “And his feet shall stand in that day upon the mount of Olives, which is before Jerusalem on the east, and the mount of Olives shall cleave in the midst thereof toward the east and toward the west, and there shall be a very great valley; and half of the mountain shall remove toward the north, and half of it toward the south” (Zechariah 14:4).

The second coming will be with a different purpose; in the second coming He will come to destroy the enemies of Israel. In the verse preceding verse 4, we see that different purpose, “Then shall the LORD go forth, and fight against those nations, as when he fought in the day of battle” (Zechariah 14:3). (See also Revelation 19:11-21). Jude also tells us about the second coming, he describes the Lord coming to earth with the saints, and he reveals one of the purposes of that coming. “And Enoch also, the seventh from Adam, prophesied of these, saying, Behold, the Lord cometh with ten thousands of his saints, To execute judgment upon all, and to convince all that are ungodly among them of all their ungodly deeds which they have ungodly committed, and of all their hard speeches which ungodly sinners have spoken against him” (Jude 14-15).

We find that in Old Testament, there was given no specific verse that directly spelled out the two yet comings of Christ. It was simply taught by implication. The two comings of Christ are indicated by the two different descriptions of His comings. In Isaiah 53 He is described as coming in meekness and humility to die. In Isaiah 9 He is seen coming in power and glory to rule and reign over the entire world. The Holy Spirit uses the same method in the New Testament in dealing with the two yet remaining comings of Christ.

The signs all around us indicate that the rapture is near at hand! Are you ready?  Are you saved?  Believer, are you living a life that pleases God or will you be ashamed at His coming?     

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