An exciting event that is going to take place in the future is the RAPTURE. The Bible says:
For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever. (1 THESSALONIANS 4:16-17)
There has been constant debate and controversy about when the Rapture takes place. There are many theories - Pre-Tribulation, Mid-Tribulation, Post-Tribulation, Partial Rapture, and Pre-Wrath Raptures of the Church. There are probably many more which stem from these theories but these five are the basic views. I hold the Pre-Tribulation Rapture view and I do so without reservation. Before I defend my convictions, let us define and examine all five views concisely.
Pre Tribulation Rapture = The Rapture will occur before the seven year tribulation
Mid Tribulation Rapture = The Rapture will occur midway into the seven year tribulation (after 3½ years) before the GREAT TRIBULATION
Pre Wrath Rapture = The Rapture will occur midway into the GREAT TRIBULATION and before the Day of God's Wrath and the Battle of Armageddon
Post Tribulation Rapture = The Rapture will occur after the seven year tribulation
Partial Rapture = The Rapture will occur before the seven year tribulation for those that are ready. Others will be tested to verify their faith and there will be multiple raptures throughout the Tribulation
The Bible says:
Study to show thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not be ashamed, RIGHTLY DIVIDING THE WORD OF TRUTH. (2 Timothy 2:15)
The Bible calls for us to RIGHTLY DIVIDE THE WORD meaning to put all the events dealing with the second coming of Christ and put them in the best order as presented by the scriptures (Biblical Analysis) and the guiding of the Holy Spirit. Some people say that the RAPTURE and the GLORIOUS APPEARING are the same event or occur at around the same time. Their logic is how can there be a second coming of Christ with two phases. They say one coming with two phases separated by seven years is more like two comings (Rapture and Glorious Appearing) but that is wrong. There is ONE SECOND COMING OF CHRIST with TWO PHASES. Other people find that contradictory. But there are several problems with these two events (or phases) being the same event occurring at the same time since there are many differences with these two events. Here is a chart contrasting the RAPTURE with the GLORIOUS APPEARING:
THE RAPTURE THE GLORIOUS APPEARING
We can see that these are two separate events under one SECOND COMING OF CHRIST. In Christ's first coming it was the reverse. He came down to be conceived by the Holy Spirit in Mary's womb and then thirty-three years later he ascended (or Raptured/Translated) to Heaven. Here are two events under one FIRST COMING OF CHRIST. Scripture confirms scripture. Here are some proofs for a PRE-TRIBULATION RAPTURE:
EVIDENCE #1 - IMMINENCE OF THE RAPTURE
The timing of the Rapture is unknown. Paul writes in his letter to the Thessalonian church:
Now, brothers, about times and dates we do not need to write to you, for you know very well that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night. While people are saying, "Peace and safety," destruction will come on them suddenly, as labor pains on a pregnant woman, and they will not escape. But you, brothers, are not in darkness so that this day should surprise you like a thief. You are all sons of the light and sons of the day. We do not belong to the night or to the darkness. So then, let us not be like others, who are asleep, but let us be alert and self-controlled. (1 THESSALONIANS 5:1-6)
In the previous chapter, Paul was comforting those in the Thessalonian church who feared that those who are dead in Christ will not get raptured (I THESSALONIANS 4:13-15). But Paul said that they will be resurrected (1 THESSALONIANS 4:16) and will precede those who are alive in Christ. Finally those who are alive in Christ will be "CAUGHT UP together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. (1 THESSALONIANS 4:17)" So we can deduce from 1 THESSALONIANS 5:1-2 that Paul is talking about the Rapture. So the Rapture CAN HAPPEN AT ANY MOMENT. Jesus WILL COME LIKE A THIEF IN THE NIGHT. Jesus himself said, "Therefore keep watch, because you do not know on what day your Lord will come. (MATTHEW 24:42)" Jesus also said that no one knows the day or the hour of the Lord's coming. No man, no angel and not even the Son, Jesus Christ knows but only the Father (MARK 13:32).
Paul in 1 THESSALONIANS 5:1 didn't need to tell about date-setting for it is pointless because the Lord will come like a thief in the night at an hour unexpected just like in the days of Noah when they were eating, drinking, partying, and SINNING (MATTHEW 24:37-38). Those people LIVED FOR TODAY but for the wrong reasons. Instead of living for God they lived for themselves and it was until the rain started that they realized THEY WERE WRONG. Paul says that we have the light which is Jesus Christ and we should always be watchful, alert, and of self-control lest we be caught unaware when that day comes. Since the Rapture is PRE-TRIBULATION, it causes Christians to lead holy lives in expectation and preparation that the Lord will COME AT ANY MOMENT!
When the church loses focus of this then it becomes carnal and spiritually dead. Other rapture views say that the Pre-Trib Rapture gives believers a false security BUT on the contrary it makes believers lead right lives before God or else they will be LEFT BEHIND! Live for God NOW not when you realize it is too late and you have to live during the dreadful seven year Tribulation. John 3:2-3 says, "Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when he appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is. Everyone who has this hope in him purifies himself, just as he is pure." THIS IS THE BLESSED HOPE, THE RAPTURE WHICH PURIFIES THE BELIEVER BY HAVING HIM/HER LIVING FOR JESUS NOW INSTEAD OF IN THE TRIBULATION WHEN FACING PLAGUES, THE MARK, AND MARTYRDOM.
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