A Voice in the
The purpose of these news letters is to spur Believers into a more intense study and communion in God's Word. In two pages it is impossible to cover the given subject fully. Scripture quotations of necessity are edited to fit space. The goal is that the Scriptures cited will spur the 'Berean' to look them up, read the contextual passages, and allow the Holy Spirit to guide them into all Truth. God's Word, the Bible, is our ONLY authority.
There are certain concepts that a person must understand when reading Scripture. Diligence to grammatical syntax is paramount.
Speaking of the resurrection, Paul lists the order, "Christ the first- fruits, afterward those who are Christ's at His coming (resurrection- Rapture). Then comes the end..." (1Cor 15:20-25) The word "then" connects that which was before to that which comes after. By the con- text, it would seem obvious that "the end" refers to the time of judgment, The Tribulation, His process of putting His "enemies under His feet."
The Thessalonians received Paul's comforting words that they hadn't missed Heaven, and tells how it is to be in chapter 4. They had been experiencing tribulation of the kind Jesus promised in John 16:33. But encouraged them in their waiting for the coming of Jesus "who delivers us from the wrath to come." (1Thes 1:10) This "wrath to come," the time of "Jacob's trouble" (Jer 30:7) is also known as "The Tribulation" or "The Great Tribulation" (Mk 13:24,Rev 7:14)
The term "rapture" does not appear in Scripture. That is why the articles were entitled "Meeting in the Air." (1Ths 4:17) However, the term describes what will happen. By definition Rapture means "The trans- porting of a person from one place to another, especially to heaven"...and comes from old French "abduction, carrying off, carried away." It is the term most used by Christians; thus, it was mentioned for reference purposes only.
While theologians have debated "pre-trib," "mid-trib," "post- trib;" and can all cite Scripture to "support" their positions, there is a major reason why it HAS TO BE a "pre-Tribulation Rapture." The "Time of Jacob's trouble" is a JEWISH period of history. It fulfills Daniel's 70th week, a Jewish prophecy. The book of Acts was the last book on Jewish history. It records Israel's rejection of the Holy Spirit (The Gospels their rejection of their Messiah, the O.T. their rejection of God the Father.) and ends with Paul exclaiming, 'Therefore let it be known to you that the salvation of God has been sent to the Gentiles, and they will hear it!" (Acts 28:28)
The Jews were a people of "Signs & Wonders." (Deut4:34, Jn4:48, Acts2:22, 5:12, Heb 2:4) We of the Church Age "walk by faith, not by sight." (2Cor 5:7) Jesus chided Thomas "Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed." (Jn 20:29) Thus, we do not currently experience "signs & wonders" as demonstrated by O.T. prophets, Jesus in the Gospels, and the Apostles in Acts. The Tribulation will again be a time of "Signs & Wonders." The "lawless one" will demonstrate with "signs & lying wonders"(2Ths 2:9) as he even tries to deceive the elect. And, of course, God will be judging with signs and wonders as illustrated in the whole book of The Revelation.
It is important that we don't mix up Scriptures dealing with the Jews and the Church. Some teach that "Israel is the Church," and others that "the Church is Israel" and thus, all the prophecies and promises for Israel apply to the Church. Not so. Some prophecies also cover widely separated events, and are hard to decipher. For instance...Jesus quoted Isaiah 61:1-2 in Luke 4:18, and stopped in mid-sentence as He ex- plained His fulfillment of that prophecy...because He came the first time..."the acceptable year of the Lord," and is yet to come again in judgment..."day of vengeance of our God." Jesus, the Author of prophecy, understood the true interpretation.
Peter, in Acts 2:17-21, in spite of the fact that he had been with Jesus for 3 years, and at the moment was filled with the Holy Spirit, mis-applied Joel's prophecy. The sun was not "turned into darkness" or the "moon into blood." Again, a prophecy split in time.
We cannot expect to have perfect understanding of prophecy either. Paul wrote of "mysteries." And it is sure that there are still many mysteries for us to discover.
Of greater importance, even than grammatical syntax, is proper and accurate reading of Scripture. John 6:44 says "No one can come to Me unless the Father...draws him." And further "...no one can come to Me unless it has been granted to him by My Father." (Jn6:65) With my concordance I could find NO INSTANCES of the Holy Spirit doing the "drawing."
Jesus lists some of the duties of the Holy Spirit in John 16. He "guides" the believer into all truth. As far as the world is concerned, the H.S. convicts of sin, righteousness and judgment. Conviction will tend to slow sin down. Thus, when 2Ths 2:7 says "He (notice "He" is capitalized) who now restrains will do so until He is taken out of the way," it seems obvious, when taking all Scripture together, that it refers to the Holy Spirit. This, combined with the previous passages and the word "then," indicate that the Church, (believers and the Holy Spirit), will go at the same time. It is necessary for the wickedness of the world to be full for God to judge in the manner He has promised. If there is righteousness on the earth, then it is not fully wicked. God does not judge the righteous. (Gen 15:16, 19:22)
People will be saved during The Tribulation. Look at Rev 7:1-17. They came out of "the great tribulation." Their means of salvation? "Whoever calls upon the name of the Lord shall be saved." (Joel 2:32, Rom 10:13)
God's call to us is to be ready. Whatever our interpretation of Scripture, God will do things in His own time, in His own way. "Watch therefore, for you do not know what hour your Lord is coming." (Mt 24:42)