What Happens To Christians Page 3
The Great Tribulation Part I
From the Main Message of
Bread Upon The Waters Ministry
The question of when the Rapture will occur, relative to the Tribulation, has been one of the most hotly debated doctrinal issues in recent Church History. It is right up there with the Calvinism Vs. Arminianism and "speaking in tongues" controversies. There are a number of major views on this issue, the most popular being the Pre-Tribulation Rapture Doctrine. According to some statistics published a few years back, about 60% of all Christians believe it. The second most widely held is the Post-Tribulation Rapture (about 10-15%), while all other views (and there are many) share the remaining 25-30%.
It is not important to a Christian's salvation or Christian walk in the here and now, which view he or she holds. Neither is it important what he or she believes about Prophecy generally, except for really believing that there will be a Second Coming. Prior to the Tribulation, the only way it can be a problem is if the Christian makes a big issue of arguing about it. But it will be important to all Christians when the Tribulation begins. If there is no Pre-Tribulation Rapture, all those who believe in it will get a terrible surprise. So will all the other Christians who don't expect to go through the Tribulation for whatever other doctrinal reasons.
More than that, it is the position of this ministry that the question is going to prove academic for most Christians, because, as stated in the previous page, they will not be ready. More will be said about this issue in the following page. For that reason, and for other reasons, it is not the intention of this writer to spend any length of time arguing about this. This will be the shortest page in this series. However, in order to lay a Scriptural foundation for what is said in the following page, it seems necessary to show what, to this writer's knowledge and understanding, the Bible really says about this.
The Various Views:
There are actually about six different views on this subject that have a following of any significance among Christians. Note that this refers only to what can be considered true believers. There are people who consider themselves, and are considered, Christians, who aren't really believers at all, and who don't expect anything like the Second Coming to ever happen. If the general expectation of many true believers is correct, they, along with the entire unsaved world, are absolutely in for a terrible surprise.
The Six Views are as follows:
- As stated, Pre -Tribulation Rapture; which doctrine states that all true believers will be evacuated from the earth just before the Great Tribulation begins.
- Mid - Tribulation Rapture; which states that the Church will be evacuated half way, more or less, through the Tribulation.
- Post Tribulation - Pre - Wrath Rapture; which doctrine sees the Great Tribulation as separate from the outpourings of God's wrath. Note that the position of this ministry is that the Tribulation is the wrath. To this writer's perception, this is effectively just a disguised version of Pre-Tribulation Rapture.
- Post Tribulation Rapture; which doctrine sees the entire Church going through the entire Great Tribulation.
- The Amilliennial View, which doctrine denies that there will be a Great Tribulation for anyone to go through. It holds the position that Christ will return, Judgment Day will happen, the world will cease to exist, and that's that.
- The Dominion View, which doctrine, again denies that there will be a Great Tribulation. It teaches that the Christianity will eventually take over the world. It holds that there will be a Second Coming, but in the infinitely far distant future.
Of course, there are a number of variations on these views, and a few others that are distinctly different. But there is one thing that should be obvious to any intelligent person:
Only one of these basic views can be right.
At least five have to be wrong!
So which one, if any of them, is right?
What The Bible Says:
It is the position of this ministry that what the Bible really teaches is Post - Tribulation Rapture. #4 above. Rather than engage in lengthy argument against the other views, we will simply present why this appears to be the right view.
The doctrine of the Rapture is derived from two well known passages of Scripture:
- I Corinthians 15:51 & 52; "Behold, I tell you a mystery: we shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed - in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed".
- I Thessalonians 4:16 & 17; "For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them to meet the Lord in the air.
Note the two brown-colored phrases above. Taken in context, the Resurrection of the Saints, not the Rapture, is the central theme of both passages. (Read I Corinthians 15, the entire chapter, and I Thessalonians 4:13 - 18.) The Rapture is secondary!!!
Now compare these two passages with Revelation 20:4 & 5. Note that by the context of the entire Book of Revelation, and particularly the immediate surrounding verses, this passage refers to something that happens at the end of the Tribulation.
4. "....Then I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded for their witness to Jesus and for the Word of God, who had not worshipped the beast or his image, and had not received his mark on their foreheads or on their hands. And they lived and reigned with Christ for a thousand years.
5. But the rest of the dead did not live again until the thousand years were finished. This is the first resurrection."
Now notice that verse 5 makes a point of saying that this is the first resurrection. And, again, it happens at the end of the Tribulation. This shown by the words, "...had not worshipped the beasts...". The implication is that they did have the opportunity, and they refused. That means they were beheaded during the Tribulation.
Note also the Greek word translated "the first": It is the Greek word proto, transliterated "proto". Its most common meaning is "first of a series". It is used in this way as a prefix in our words "prototype" and "protozoa". It can also mean "first in honor or importance, as in the expression, "First Lady". But the presence of the phrase, "the rest of the dead" in verse 5 indicates that there is another resurrection at the end of the Millennium, so the "first of a series" meaning is the one intended here.
Now let's apply some simple logic: If this is the first resurrection, then there is no Resurrection of the Saints before it. If the Resurrection of the Saints happens before the Rapture, and there is no resurrection before this one, then there is no Rapture before this one. If this Resurrection happens at the end of the Tribulation, then the Rapture happens at the end of the Tribulation. It's as simple as that.
Years ago, in an earlier stage of this ministry, this writer mailed tapes that contained a forerunner of this message to about 60 Christian leaders, many of whom were Pre - Trib. In it he challenged them to show him a passage in the Bible that clearly showed a general resurrection of the saints that happened before the Tribulation. No such passage has ever been shown to him. No such passage exists.
This writer has heard Pre-Tribulation preachers and writers trying to get around this by reading several previous Resurrections, including the Resurrection of Jesus Christ, into the term "first resurrection". A simple reading should make it obvious that there is nothing in the context of Revelation 20:5 or in the meaning of the word "proto" to justify this. If it were correct, the passage should read, "these are the first resurrections". Plural! Not singular! The Greek words exist to say that! Of course, the Scripture doesn't say it! The Pre-Tribbers are interpreting the verse to make it agree with their views, when they should change their views to make them agree with the verse! They should take the Bible to mean what it says, and nothing more or less. People who hold and teach their views had better repent! They are ignoring the warnings of Revelation 22:18 & 19. They are adding to the words of the prophecy! Guess what God will add to them?
There are, of course, many other Scriptural points and arguments that support the Post-Tribulation interpretation. But, again, it is not the purpose of this ministry to go into an exhaustive argument about this. Again, for most Christians the question will be academic in the final analysis, because they won't be ready. Even hard-line Pre - Tribbers have supported this position with their observations about the condition of the Church. No matter when the Rapture occurs, most Christians are going into the Great Tribulation. We will discuss exactly what will happen to them in the following page:
The Seal of the Living God
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Contact Author, William D. Brehm