FROM PASTOR TIM JOHNSON:
Sunday’s brief message on the Rapture resonated with many, and, encouraged many as well. That’s good because I think that is Paul’s primary goal in 1 Thessalonians 4. He wants to encourage the Church.
In chatting with a Saint about the Rapture, they, like me, can see how the Bible could support the idea of a post-tribulation Rapture. However, the big challenge of a post-Tribulation Rapture is that it would come at the end of the 7-year Tribulation. And thus, someone could calculate when Jesus would return.
Since Jesus says He does not know when He’s returning, the doctrine of Imminence exists indicating that Jesus’ return will be a surprise. The best place for this kind of imminence to take place is before the 7-year Tribulation, which will come without any warning and something no one can calculate.
I might also suggest that Revelation 3:10 implies that the faithful church of Philadelphia will be protected “from the hour of trial that is coming on the whole world.” This accords with the idea of a Rapture (snatching) of the Church to save her from the wrath of God.
As I mentioned on Sunday, the Church is not mentioned in Revelation chapters 6-19, which many see as a picture of the Tribulation. Now, that is an argument from silence, which is not as strong as a clear biblical declaration. But it cannot be dismissed as a key piece of evidence supporting the Pre-Tribulation position.
As this Saint and I chatted further, they mentioned that it might be a bit selfish to be hoping for a Rapture because they don’t like the idea of having to endure the Tribulation. I told them, it’s not selfish at all. No one should long for the day of the Lord because it will be awful (read Amos 5:18-20), and Paul wanted to comfort the church with the idea that the Church will not have to suffer.
But again, if our eschatology (end times thinking) does not produce in us a genuine freedom and desire to tell others about Jesus, then we are missing something. We are called to tell others about Jesus, not to tell others to stock up on goods for the Tribulation.
I am delighted so many are growing…but please keep reading your Bibles and thinking critically about these issues. I am fallible, but thankfully, forgiven!
Rescued by Christ, and….maybe…one day…Raptured by Christ,