On Rapture, Tribulation, and Scripture - 08/15/2004

Greetings. The Lord bless you and strengthen you in the days ahead. I came across this declaration and was astounded that a verse taken out of context was being held out in support of an invisible return of Jesus Christ contrary to Revelation 1:7 where the Church is informed that His return is visible. Considering the information given warning of a radical spiritual transformation of mankind prior to the appearance of the 'man of sin' it certainly appears strange appears that you should leave the back door wide open to allow various spirits an opportunity to deceive many by maintaining that Jesus has somehow returned.

"One of the best supporting verses from the Bible for the rapture of the Church is found in Revelation 3:10."

"Because you have kept my command to persevere, I also will keep you from the hour of trial which shall come upon the whole world to test those who dwell on the earth."

(1) The verse above is addressed to the church in Philadelphia . (That fact proves that the end time great tribulation is not being referred to here under the term 'hour of trial' because those saints wouldn't be on the earth during those days.) That promise would have no real meaning at all as a specific blessing to that church when it was not possible for even one of the seven churches to be around during the last days.

(2) That prophecy was fulfilled in their day.

(3) A resurrection of the just (rapture) is not even mentioned in that verse.

(4) The concept itself of exemption from trials due to faithfulness cannot apply overall to the last generation when such is prophesied as participating in an apostasy. (2 Thes. 2:3)

(5) No other generation of believers was delivered from tribulation by means of a "rapture."

Have you considered the following verses and what is actually stated there.

Rev. 20:4&5 (4) And I saw thrones, and they sat upon them, and judgement was given unto them: and I saw the souls of them that were beheaded for the witness of Jesus, and for the word of God, and which had not worshipped the beast, neither his image, neither had received his mark upon their foreheads, or in their hands; and they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years. But the rest of the dead lived not again until the thousand years were finished. ... (5b) This is the first resurrection.

Please consider that an invisible return of Jesus Christ prior to the 'first resurrection' mentioned above makes denouncing date-setters afore hand near to impossible. In addition a simple redefining of what the word 'rapture' means (EG. Caught up into a spiritual state.) would provide a Christianized (sic) version of the New Age spirituality. (Perhaps something like unto Latter Rain doctrine.)

Should you be of the opinion that I err somehow then provide the scriptures to prove that such is so.

Glory to Jesus!
Your brother and servant in Christ Jesus. Bryon





CONTENDER MINISTRIES RESPONSE:


Hi Bryon. Thanks for writing us at Contender Ministries. I've answered your questions below. Your questions and comments are in [normal font], and my response is below each comment in [italics].

(1) The verse above is addressed to the church in Philadelphia . (That fact proves that the end time great tribulation is not being referred to here under the term 'hour of trial' because those saints wouldn't be on the earth during those days.) That promise would have no real meaning at all as a specific blessing to that church when it was not possible for even one of the seven churches to be around during the last days.

(2) That prophecy was fulfilled in their day.

First, the message of Revelation 2 and 3 is to the churchES, not just the seven churches of Asia Minor, otherwise the majority would have been excluded. This verse could not be meant only for the church in Philadelphia. The Church in Philadelphia was completely destroyed by the Turkish invasion in 1382, long before "the hour of trial which shall come upon the whole world". That period of time has not yet come. The hour of trial is a time "such as has not been seen since the beginning of the World" (Matthew 24:21-22). Obviously the church of Philadelphia has end-time significance, for it is referred to as "alive" during the last days. The seven churches of Asia Minor were selected out of the hundreds of churches at the time because they were types of the seven church ages that would exist from the first century to the present. The church in Philadelphia represented the "open door" church - that is, the evangelistic, missionary minded church, which started about 1750.

(3) A resurrection of the just (rapture) is not even mentioned in that verse.

The rapture isn't summed up in one neat verse. Just like many other of our Lord's teachings, they are understood through a study of the scriptures as a whole. There are many other verses that teach us about the rapture of the Church. Most prophecy study requires reading more than one verse.

(4) The concept itself of exemption from trials due to faithfulness cannot apply overall to the last generation when such is prophesied as participating in an apostasy. (2 Thes. 2:3)

There will be an apostasy, but nowhere does the Bible teach that ALL believers will be a part of that apostasy. Even during the tribulation there will be those who come to Christ and do not follow the Antichrist.

(5) No other generation of believers was delivered from tribulation by means of a "rapture."

First, you are confusing the word tribulation with THE Tribulation. The Bible tells us we will all suffer persecution for His name, however, the Tribulation is a specific event that will only happen once. It's also referred to as The Wrath of God, The Hour of Trial, The Wrath to Come, and a few other names. Second, the fact that the rapture hasn't happened doesn't prove it won't. The Bible doesn't prophecy that Christ will return several times for different generations. Are you saying that, because you don't think God's plan is fair, it can't be right? We should be careful not to presume to know more than God about how things should happen. Also, there have been other Biblical figures who have been raptured. See II Kings 2:11-12 and Hebrews 11:5.

Have you considered the following verses and what is actually stated there.

Rev. 20:4&5 (4) And I saw thrones, and they sat upon them, and judgment was given unto them: and I saw the souls of them that were beheaded for the witness of Jesus, and for the word of God, and which had not worshipped the beast, neither his image, neither had received his mark upon their foreheads, or in their hands; and they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years. But the rest of the dead lived not again until the thousand years were finished. ...(5b) This is the first resurrection.

Please consider that an invisible return of Jesus Christ prior to the 'first resurrection' mentioned above makes denouncing date-setters afore hand near to impossible.

First of all, the first resurrection here refers to the rapture and then resurrection of the tribulation saints who were martyred for their faith during the tribulation. The martyred saints and the Old Testament Saints (Psalms 50:1-6) will reign with Christ in the millennial kingdom. (1 Cor. 15:20; 1 Cor. 15:23, 1 Thess. 4:13-18). This first resurrection is for believers. The second resurrection is exclusively for the non-believers who will be resurrected and thrown into the abyss to receive their punishment. The Second resurrection doesn't refer to the resurrection of the saints that will be raptured. They are present with Christ during His glorious appearing and participate in the marriage supper of the Lamb BEFORE the first resurrection mentioned in the verses above. The fact that the marriage supper has already taken place before Christ returns to establish his kingdom and raise the martyred saints is further proof that the church has already been raptured.

The Bible itself denounces date setters. The Bible clearly states that we will not know the day nor hour when Christ will return. We don't need to change the Bible or our beliefs to make it easier to keep "date-setters" at bay. This brings up another point. The only way the day and hour could be a secret for believers is if it came before the tribulation. If it comes after the tribulation we will know the exact date of his return - seven years after the peace treaty is signed between the Antichrist and Israel. For this reason we know it can't happen after the tribulation. Nor can it be a mid-tribulation rapture that takes place before the Great Tribulation, because we would still know that the rapture would be 3 1/2 years after the peace treaty is signed with Israel.


In addition a simple redefining of what the word 'rapture' means (EG. Caught up into a spiritual state.) would provide a Christianized (sic) version of the New Age spirituality. (Perhaps something like unto Latter Rain doctrine.)

People will always redefine scripture to suit their own evil desires. The answer is not to change the Word of God or believe only parts of it in order to prevent people from doing so. The rapture isn't a spiritual state. When Christ returns he will bring His Church with Him. We had to get there somehow. The Bible tells us how. I Thessalonians 4:16-17; John 14:3; I Corinthians 15:51, 53.

I hope that helps explain our point of view. God Bless!

Ben and Jennifer Rast
Contender Ministries