Salvation

In Christianity the Rapture is the belief that both living and dead believers will ascend into Heaven to meet Jesus Christ the Messiah at the second coming.

In Christianity the Rapture is the belief that both living and dead believers will ascend into Heaven to meet Jesus Christ the Messiah at the second coming.

 

Here are some Christian viewpoints about understanding of tribulation. The New Testament speaks of tribulation and the great tribulation. It seems the debate hinges on whether the church (true believers) will or will not go through the tribulation.

The church has at least three different views of the tribulation the church will be raptured before the tribulation begins, the church to go through the tribulation, the church goes through the first half of the tribulation, and then rapture of the church.

 

The place in Scripture that most clearly teaches a rapture is (1 Thessalonians 4:14-17).

"The Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the archangel's call, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first; then we who are alive, who are left, shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air; and so we shall always be with the Lord."

The phrase "Caught up" in one early Latin translation, we derive the English word "rapture." So the rapture refers in this context to that moment when believers will be caught up, along with the dead in Christ, to a glorious meeting with the Lord in His triumphal descent.

1 Corinthians 15:51-52 "We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet." However, the teaching here relates not so much to meeting the Lord as to the fact that our bodies (dead and alive) will be changed in this great future event.

Rapture and Tribulation

Nothing is said in either passage directly about the relation of the rapture to tribulation. However, the implication in 1 Thessalonians 4 is that no tribulation follows the rapture. Thus it is hard to arrive from this passage a Pre-tribulation rapture of the church or a Post-tribulation rapture of the church when no tribulation is mentioned.

Let us examine the word "tribulation." In the Greek it is translated as "tribulation" or "affliction". Returning to 1 Thessalonians we observe in chapter 3.

"we sent Timothy... to establish you, and to comfort you concerning your faith: That no man should be moved by these afflictions, hence "tribulations" for you yourselves know we are appointed thereunto. For verily, when we were with you, we told you before that we should suffer tribulation; even as it came to pass, and ye know".
Since this chapter precedes the next on the rapture, and also declares that we are "appointed" to tribulation, even to "suffer" the same, it would seem apparent that tribulation precedes the rapture to come. Clearly, the tribulation here precedes the return of Christ and the rapture of the church. Another memorable statement of Jesus is found in John 16:33

"In the world you have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world."

Tribulation and the Great Tribulation

In Matthew 24: 3-28. Jesus tells His disciples,

3 As Jesus was sitting on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to him privately. “Tell us,” they said, “when will this happen, and what will be the sign of your coming and of the end of the age?”

4 Jesus answered: “Watch out that no one deceives you.

5 For many will come in my name, claiming, ‘I am the Messiah,’ and will deceive many.

6 You will hear of wars and rumors of wars, but see to it that you are not alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come.

7 Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be famines and earthquakes in various places.

8 All these are the beginning of birth pains.

9 “Then you will be handed over to be persecuted and put to death, and you will be hated by all nations because of me.

10 At that time many will turn away from the faith and will betray and hate each other

11 and many false prophets will appear and deceive many people.

12 Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold

13 but the one who stands firm to the end will be saved.

14 And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.

15 “So when you see standing in the holy place ‘the abomination that causes desolation, ’spoken of through the prophet Daniel—let the reader understand

16 then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains.

17 Let no one on the housetop go down to take anything out of the house.

18 Let no one in the field go back to get their cloak.

19 How dreadful it will be in those days for pregnant women and nursing mothers!

20 Pray that your flight will not take place in winter or on the Sabbath.

21 For then there will be great distress, unequaled from the beginning of the world until now—and never to be equaled again.

22 “If those days had not been cut short, no one would survive, but for the sake of the elect those days will be shortened.

23 At that time if anyone says to you, ‘Look, here is the Messiah!’ or, ‘There he is!’ do not believe it.

24 For false messiahs and false prophets will appear and perform great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect.

25 See, I have told you ahead of time.

26 “So if anyone tells you, ‘There he is, out in the wilderness,’ do not go out; or, ‘Here he is, in the inner rooms,’ do not believe it.

27 For as lightning that comes from the east is visible even in the west, so will be the coming of the Son of Man.

28 Wherever there is a carcass, there the vultures will gather.

 

Some Christians, argue that although all Christians go through some tribulation, there is yet a "great tribulation" to come that true believers will not have to endure. Let us examine the expression "great tribulation" which occurs first in Matthew 24:11

"Then there will be great tribulation, such as has not been from the beginning of the world until now, no, and never will be."

Here the tribulation seems to refer to what will happen to the world at large note the following verse "if those days had not been shortened, no human being would be saved; but for the sake of the elect those days will be shortened". In any case, this "great tribulation" is also prior to the return of Christ and the rapture. For, further on, in Matthew 24, Jesus says,

"Immediately after the tribulation of those days the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light...and they will see the Son of man coming on the clouds of heaven...and he will send out his angels with a loud trumpet call
 
Remember in 1 Thessalonians and 1 Corinthians about the trumpet, and they will gather the elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other"

These last words clearly relate to the rapture depicted as the gathering of "the elect", and unmistakably refer to an occurrence after "great tribulation." Surely there is no Pre-tribulation rapture here.

The other place where the expression "great tribulation" is utilized is in Revelation, chapter 7. 9 John, beholding "a great multitude" of white robed people praising God around His throne and before the Lamb, is told:

"These are they who have come out of the great tribulation; they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb".

But "out of" surely does not mean to be removed from; rather these believers have endured "the great tribulation" and have now come out of it, praising God and the Lamb. Here again "great tribulation" seems to refer to what happens upon the whole earth and the protection of believers, rather than their escape, during this time.

 

Chapter 7:3-4 earlier describes the sealing of 144,000 "servants of our God" before "the great tribulation" begins. These believers rather than escaping out of tribulation by way of rapture were sealed by God for their protection while going through it. Moreover, all of this happens prior to the return of Christ, which is not actually described until chapter 19.

I should add that many Christians of the Pre-tribulation view see the church as already having been raptured before any of the events, including tribulation in Revelation 6-19, occur. Some take the words addressed to John in Revelation 4:1, "Come up hither" as referring to the rapture either actually or symbolically, and then add that since the word "church" does not appear until Revelation 22:16, the church, true believers, has been raptured or translated prior to the terrible events described in Revelation 6-19. This, however, is a critical misinterpretation: the words to John in Revelation 4 "Come up hither" have nothing to do either actually or symbolically with the rapture of the church; and, although the word "church" does not appear in these intervening chapters, believers are definitely on the earth.

Tribulation and Believers

Based on the biblical testimony, there will not be a Pre-tribulational rapture of the church This is very important to emphasize. For whether the tribulation is what all Christians are called upon to endure to the very end, or a great tribulation occurring worldwide, the Lord will see His people through whatever happens. There will be much persecution, to be sure, even martyrdom ahead (Jesus promised that), and many coming judgments on the world, from which true believers will be protected. Whichever way, there will be tribulation until the day Christ returns in glory.

I am afraid too many today are being lulled into thinking that when things get really bad, we as believers will be suddenly “removed” out of it all. This is indeed poor preparation for what is yet to happen and a serious misreading of the prophetic message. We will go through whatever tribulation may yet come, and in the midst of it and on the other side, give God all the glory!

Just as Israel was in Egypt and was protected from the plagues until the appointed time of the Exodus, so the Church will be in the world and protected from the wrath until the appointed time of the second coming of Jesus Christ the Messiah.