Which is correct?
Pre, Mid or Post….
The Bible is truth, it provides peace to troubled souls living in a chaotic world. Because it is a two-edged sword, it cuts through the insignificant and points to what is authentic. Because it is sheer, raw power, it has the dynamic to move the tallest mountains of unbelief. It is a compendium of truth by which we must live and is nothing short of majestic. Yet, there are many interpretations of holy writ. Great controversy continues to surround the subject of the return of Christ for His church-as far as a timetable is concerned.
There are essentially three points of view.
Pre-, Mid-, or Post TRIBULATIONAL VIEW.
The pretribulation position, on which this book is based, reflects the following seven Scriptural arguments. We will consider the first three this week and the remaining next week.
The promise to the church in Philadelphia (Revelation 3:10). The Book of Revelation is written chronologically. It sets forth the believer’s deliverance from wrath in a beautiful way. Revelation 1:19 states, “Write the things which thou hast seen, and the things which are, and the things which shall be.” Presently, the twentieth century finds us in Revelation, chapter 3.1)http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Revelation%203&version=KJV John sees the great escape or evacuation of believers in chapter 4, verse 1.2)http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Revelation%204:1&version=KJV He says, “I looked, and, behold, a door was opened in heaven: and the first voice which I heard was as it were of a trumpet talking with me; which said, Come up hither, and I will shew thee things which must be hereafter.“
I believe this to be the Rapture because the twenty-four elders, picturing the saints of all ages-Old and New Testament believers-are already crowned and casting their rewards at Christ’s feet in verses 10 and 11,3)http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Revelation%204:10-11&version=KJV and believers cannot be crowned until the resurrection of the just occurs (Luke 14:14). Thus, the Rapture has already taken place, the rewards have been distributed, and all is well as the chapter ends.
Then the Tribulation Hour, depicted in Revelation 6,4)http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Revelation%206&version=KJV will continue until the Battle of Armageddon, when Christ returns as King of kings and Lord of lords (see Revelation 19:11-16). The crowning of the saints in chapter 4,5)http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Revelation%204&version=KJV plus the fact that the Church is conspicuously absent and not even mentioned after chapter 4,6)http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Revelation%204&version=KJV is certainly meaningful.
The seven churches of Revelation 27)http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Revelation%202&version=KJV and 38)http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Revelation%203&version=KJV represent the professing Church in seven successive eras from the Day of Pentecost to the time of the Lord’s return. Each church fits chronologically into its respective place in history. The sixth church, Philadelphia, escapes the Tribulation Hour, but the seventh, Laodicea, is rejected by Christ. True believers, possessing Christ, are kept from the hour of temptation that immerses our entire planet: “I also will keep thee from [not through] the hour of temptation” (Revelation 3:10). Also, “God hath not appointed us to wrath” (1 Thessalonians 5:9).
The case of the twenty-four elders (Revelation 4:1). Now let’s consider another great pretribulational truth-the twenty-four elders. After the “Come up hither” of Revelation 4:1, twenty-four elders are casting crowns at Christ’s feet in verses 10 and 11.9)http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Revelation%204:10-11&version=KJV Then a throne is set up. Around God’s throne are twenty-four thrones on which sit twenty-four elders, “clothed in white raiment; and they had on their heads crowns of gold” (Revelation 4:4).
Who are the twenty-four elders?
This is of extreme importance for pretribulation proponents: The twenty-four elders are the representatives of God’s people in both Testaments- the saints of all ages. The Book of Revelation unites the representative groups often. For instance, in describing the Holy City in Revelation 21:12-14, the names of the twelve tribes of Israel are posted on the gates, while the names of the twelve apostles are inscribed upon the city’s foundation. Now twelve plus twelve equals twenty-four.
In chapter 5, verses 8 through 10,10)http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Revelation%205:8-10&version=KJV these twenty-four elders do something that is spine-tingling: “[They fall] down before the Lamb [Jesus], having every one of them harps, and golden vials full of odours, which are the prayers of saints. And they [sing] a new song, saying, Thou art worthy [Christ] to take the book, and to open the seals thereof: for thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by thy blood out of every kindred, and tongue, and people
, and nation; and hast made us unto our God kings and priests: and we shall reign on the earth.“
Here we witness the praise session of the ages-Old and New Testament believers, represented by twenty-four elders, praising the Lamb of God for shedding His blood. Someone says, “Old Testament believers were not saved by the blood.“
No one-but no one-gets to heaven without the shed blood of Jesus! This is why Acts 10:43 declares, “To [Jesus] give all the [Old Testament] prophets witness, that through his name whosoever believeth in him shall receive remission of sins.“
Therefore, Old and New Testament believers, pictured by the twenty-four elders, are singing about the blood in Revelation 5:9 before the seal judgments begin in chapter 611)http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Revelation%206&version=KJV (the beginning of the Tribulation Hour). The Jews of old looked ahead to Calvary’s shed blood as they offered their animal sacrifices while the Church looks back to the Cross as the communion or memorial supper is conducted. Either way, “It is the blood that maketh an atonement for the soul” (Leviticus 17:11).
Since the elders are already crowned-and since no one can be crowned until he is either resurrected if dead, or translated if living-it is obvious that the Resurrection has occurred by the time we reach Revelation 4:10. First Thessalonians 4:16 has transpired. We conclude, then, that the scene in Revelation 4 and 512)http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Revelation%204-5&version=KJV is the direct result of the Rapture, the great escape before the judgments begin in chapter 6.13)http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Revelation%206&version=KJV
The Holy Spirit, the hinderer, is taken out of the way (2 Thessalonians 2:7-8). Another truth concerning the pre-tribulation Rapture that needs to be considered has to do with the ministry of the Holy Spirit. Jesus, before departing from earth to heaven, said, “Nevertheless I tell you the truth; It is expedient for you that I go away: for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send him unto you. And when he is come, he will reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment” (John 16:7-8). It is evident that the work of the Holy Spirit is to convict us and restrain us from sin. The Spirit of God does this through those whose bodies He indwells.
First Corinthians 6:19 states, “What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own?” Every child of God is indwelt by His Spirit: “Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his” (Romans 8:9). Spirit-indwelt believers have a purifying effect upon the world. They are the “salt of the earth” and the “light of the world” (Matthew 5:13-14). Salt prevents spoilage, and light dispels darkness. Think of the corruption and darkness that will prevail when the salt of the earth and light of the world are removed at the Rapture. No wonder Jesus said, “For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time” (Matthew 24:21).
Does the Bible teach such an evacuation of believers? Is there really a great escape before the Tribulation begins? Definitely!
Paul settled the mess by stating in 2 Thessalonians 2:1-8: “Now we beseech you, brethren, by the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and by our gathering together unto him. That ye be not soon shaken in mind, or be troubled, neither by spirit, nor by word, nor by letter as from us, as that the day of Christ is at hand. Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition; Who opposeth and exaketh himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, shewing himself that he is God. Remember ye not, that, when I was yet with you, I told you these things? And now ye know what withholdeth that he might be revealed in his time. For the mystery of iniquity doth already work: only he who now letteth [“hinders”] will let [“hinder”], until he be taken out of the way. And then shall that Wicked be revealed, whom the Lord shall consume with the spirit of his mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness of his coming.“
Paul, deeply perturbed by the forged letter, stated in effect, “I understand someone produced a letter, supposedly written by me, stating that the Church is presently experiencing the pangs of the Tribulation Hour. Don’t believe that lying prattle. Don’t be both
ered, bewildered, or shaken over such a distortion of facts. I could not and would not write such a letter, simply because the Tribulation cannot begin until two things occur. First, there must be a falling away, and second, the man of sin must be revealed“ (paraphrased).
Scholars of the past rendered the phrase “falling away” as “a catching away.” They talked about a time when the law of gravitation would be broken and men would “fall away” via the Rapture to meet the Lord in the clouds.
Other scholars believed that the Greek word apostaias meant that an apostasized departure from the faith would occur.
The important point to consider is that either must happen before the man of sin-the lawless one, the beast of the seventieth week-is revealed. This introduction of the Antichrist to the world will inaugurate the Tribulation Hour.
This means that the “day of the Lord” or the Tribulation period cannot begin until this monstrous maniac is identified to earth’s citizens. Yet he cannot be revealed until the restraining influence of the Holy Spirit is removed: “He who now letteth [“hinders”] will let, until he be taken out of the way. And then shall that Wicked be revealed (2 Thessalonians 2:7-8).
This does not mean that the Holy Spirit must be removed from the earth.
This is impossible because He, as God, is omnipresent, everywhere at all times (see Psalm 139:7-11). So it means that His hindering or restraining power over sin-that keeps the Antichrist from mounting the throne- will be removed. This will happen as the Holy Spirit’s temples-believers’ bodies (see 1 Corinthians 6:19)-are taken from the earth to heaven.
Then the “salt of the earth” and the “light of the world” will be removed. This immediately will produce corruption and darkness on an unprecedented scale, allowing the world dictator to come to power. This will begin the Tribulation Hour. Then the “beast” of the ages will rule during earth’s bloodiest hour, proclaiming himself as God, the Christ (2 Thessalonians 2:4). He will rule until Christ returns to earth at the conclusion of the seven years. Then “the Lord shall consume [him] with the spirit of his mouth, and shall destroy [him] with the brightness of his coming” (2 Thessalonians 2:8).
A MESSAGE OF HOPE FROM DR. JACK VAN IMPE
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