Will the Rapture be an Escape Route from the Time of Trouble?
by Steve Sterling 11/10/2011 / Prophecy
I did a few searches on the internet looking at the different views concerning the Rapture. While I've seen some very weird stuff, much of the things I read are very much in agreement with my view of the subject. The meaning of the term "rapture" is 'to be caught up'. Now it is very important that when you hear the term "Rapture" it is not speaking about the Second Coming as we generally believe it.
Firstly, it teaches that there will be a secret ascension of the saints just prior to great tribulation and the mark-of-the-beast crisis. After the tribulation, Christ will return in person for those who are called the "tribulation saints." Therefore, in this teaching is the suggestion that there will be two separate ascensions: (1) the pre-tribulation deliverance of the waiting saints, and (2) the post-tribulation deliverance of those who went through the crisis and refused to accept the mark of the beast.
Upon examining this doctrine, several questions pop up in my mind: what if there is no such thing as a pre-tribulation rapture after all? What if the people who were expecting this event realize that they will indeed remain here to experience the tribulation? How will this affect their preparedness? Since the promise of a rapture applies to all Christians who truly believe in Jesus as their personal Savior from sin, wouldn't it be a safer bet to expect to go through the tribulation and prepare for it? After all, you would be "raptured" anyway; certainly, God will not determine who goes to heaven based on whether or not he/she believes in a secret rapture.
It seems a little strange that a view of this sort can be adopted when the Bible is reasonably clear on the subject of the Second Advent. If you should go through the writings of the prophets on this subject you will see a common theme throughout; it is all about how the Lord will return to deliver his people (Dan. 12:1), how He will return to a people who are anxiously awaiting His promised arrival (Isa. 25:9). I find it quite interesting that from the earliest times of the preaching the Second Coming of Christ it is in reference to a single event. In the epistle of Jude, a reference is made to the earliest proclamation of the return of Christ from the utterances of the prophet Enoch. It declares:
"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 vs 14 (KJV)
Another observation I made that seems to discredit the rapture theory is the need for the people of God to be prepared before translation (being caught up to heaven). This observation is in direct reference to the assertion that the Christians will escape the great tribulation. The quality of this preparation for the coming kingdom is thus described by the apostle Paul in his epistle to the Ephesians:
"Husband, love your wives, even as Christ, also loved the church, and gave himself for it; That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing, but that it should be holy and without blemish."
The purification of the church here described is in reference to the spiritual condition that the people of God must be in before they can be taken to heaven; like Enoch, who walked with God(Gen. 5:21-24; Heb. 11:5), the spotlessness of their lives must be the means by which they are qualified for heaven. However, what interests me most is the process by which this state of purity is to be achieved. In this regard, the apostle Peter made the point crystal clear in the following statement:
"Wherein ye greatly rejoice, though now for a season, if need be, ye are in heaviness through manifold temptations: That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ:" 1Pet. 1:6, 7 (KJV)
Before the coming of Christ the second time, the faith of the people of God will be severely tried; they will be assailed by manifold temptations and persecuted for the gospel of Christ. According to the scriptures, this will be the means of purifying the saints and preparing them for the Second Advent.
The above testimony from the writings of Peter was clearly confirmed by the vision of John in Revelation 20 where he saw the final triumph of the people of God who went through the mark-of-the-beast crisis and who were beheaded for their refusal to worship the beast and his image (Rev. 20:4). In these scriptures we can hardly find any comfort in the idea that the Christians will find a way of escape from the coming crisis. My advice to all who believe they will not be here when it happens is, prepare for it just in case. As the Bible says, "Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution." 2Tim. 3:12