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    New Covenant Ministries

    Is the Pre-Tribulation
    Rapture Doctrine True?

    by Apostle Rodman, Cathedral of Praise*

    The 'pre-tribulation rapture' theory suggests that the Lord Jesus Christ can return any day to secretly take His people to heaven. This teaching also declares that there will be an early resurrection at that time. In addition, it teaches that the Holy Spirit will not indwell believers on the earth during the last seven years. The supposed purpose of the 'rapture' is to protect the Church from God's judgments.

    Brothers and sisters, this 'pre-tribulation rapture' message is a dangerous false doctrine which appeals to one's sensual desires and which thrives on natural human fears.

    Our God is a mighty God Who can and will protect us in any situation as a testimony of His great love, just as He protected Noah through the flood; Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego in the fiery furnace; Daniel in the lions' den; and Moses and the children of Israel during the plagues in Egypt. Their deliverance was an open testimony to the unsaved. Had they merely disappeared, their opportunity to witness Christ would forever be swallowed up in confusion. If Daniel had been raptured out of the lions' den during the night, the Persians would have thought Daniel had been eaten by the lions. In the last days, the Lord has promised that He will protect us with His seal. It is no coincidence that some of the plagues in Revelation have to do with fire, scorching sun, and savage beasts, from which we also will be delivered as were our spiritual forefathers, who were an example unto us of faith, perseverance, and courage against all odds.

    Be assured that the Lord Jesus Christ will return visibly at the last trumpet to gather His people unto Him in the air, and to destroy His enemies. Every eye shall see Him, and they shall look on Him Whom they pierced (Rev. 1:7). The angel in Acts chapter one prophesied that Jesus would return in the same manner that He left. Jesus will descend upon the Mount of Olives from where He ascended (Zech. 14:3,4). This glorious event which happens at the time of the Battle of Armageddon is called the Second Coming or the post-tribulation rapture.

    Jesus prayed that the 'pre-trib rapture' would never happen as long as this present evil world exists: "I pray not that Thou shouldest take them out of the world, but that Thou shouldest keep them from the evil." (John 17:15)

    Today, Paul's epistles warn against the 'any-time rapture' doctrine:

    "... 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 great falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition ..." (2 Thess. 2:2,3). This verse has been altered in almost every English Bible to read contrary to the original Greek, except in the 1611 King James Version. (The Spanish Bible of 1569, written 42 years earlier, agrees with the King James). Pre-tribulationists say that the fulfillment of all prophecy necessary for the rapture to happen has already taken place, but the above verse says that the 'man of sin' must be revealed first. The 'man of sin' is revealed when he sits in the temple (v.4). The epistles to the Thessalonians were written to saved people. The anti-Christ will be revealed to born-again Christians, not the world. The world will be sent strong delusion that they will believe the lies of this evil imposter. This happens at the middle of the tribulation. (Daniel 9:27)

    One might wonder why the Christians to whom Paul was writing should be troubled at the statement, "the day of Christ is at hand"? Even Paul said in Philippians 4:5 "The Lord is at hand." Shouldn't we rejoice, knowing that He is coming? The key here is timing. Prophecy spoken when the Lord has not spoken will "trouble", not edify and comfort. Although the Thessalonians knew that they were saved, yet they felt in their hearts that they had a ministry to personally fulfill as a prophetic people before the return of Jesus. They were troubled that Jesus might come too soon. The Thessalonians evidently sensed that the Holy Spirit was saying that there must be signs before the return of Christ, but were not sure what sign(s) to expect. The true prophecy of Paul comforted them saying that there will be signs first. Jesus said the same in the gospels (Matthew 24, Mark 13, Luke 21).

    Pre-trib theory still "troubles" people today. Yes, Jesus is truly at hand, soon to return, but there are signs to come before the rapture. One of these signs is the great falling away in 2 Thessalonians chapter 2, verse 3.

    This means receiving the mark of the Beast, not merely backsliding. The sign of the great falling away begins to take place at the midpoint of the seven-year tribulation. Another sign is the revealing of the man of sin, also called the son of perdition. He is revealed by the act of sitting in the holy place and enforcing the mark of the beast. Revelation chapter thirteen indicates that he will falsify his own death and resurrection. Satan will at the same time be defeated in heaven and cast down to earth by Michael and the angels (Rev. 12) [1] causing the devil to seek habitation in the body of the man, the beast (or son of perdition/ anti-Christ/ Little Horn) Throughout church history we have mistaken various dictators as being the final antichrist. Examples: some of the caesars, Attila the Hun, some of the popes, Napoleon, Hitler, and Stalin just to name a few. Although the antichrist will be one of several prominent leaders during the first half of the tribulation, he won't be revealed conclusively until the tribulation period has been underway for three and a half years. Any premature attempt to recognize him will be indefinite. The Bible is not a complicated mystery book. It was written for shepherds, farmers, ditch-diggers, and children, as well as for scholars. All true Christians will universally by the Spirit of Wisdom recognize the son of perdition when the time to be revealed arrives.

    Getting back to the subject of the pre-trib rapture theory, let's look at 1 Thessalonians 4:13-17 again. If there were a pre-trib rapture, and if these verses describe it (even though no where does it say that these things take place before Armageddon) then Paul would be a participant in such pre-trib rapture. Keep in mind that Paul also wrote 2 Thessalonians 1:7-10 (which says that Jesus returns taking fiery vengeance on His enemies, and there is no rest for the saints before that time; and Paul also wrote the definitive resurrection chapter, 1 Corinthians 15, in which he said that the resurrection in which he (Paul) would be involved in would occur at the last trump. [verses 51-54] Since there are trumpets during the tribulation period, we know that the resurrection and rapture are not before the tribulation. (I believe the last trumpet to be the voice of the Lord [Rev. 1:10 and Heb. 12:19, 25, 26], not an angel's trumpet, but that is beside the point.) The Corinthian and Thessalonian epistles are therefore speaking of the one and the same rapture---and only one.

    After the tribulation begins, Paul's epistles will continue to warn about the 'pre-trib teachers, "... Who concerning the truth have erred, saying that the resurrection is past already; and overthrow the faith of some." (2 Tim. 2:18) Although the Old Testament saints were resurrected with Jesus, they were simply being transferred from the 'paradise' section of Sheol into heaven, where they are now allowed to dwell legally. Jesus applied His blood to the mercy seat in heaven sometime between early morning and afternoon of Resurrection Day; During the interim, the Old Testament saints were seen in Jerusalem, because the blood of Christ had to go before them into the presence of God.

    This single resurrection of Old Testament saints does not set a precedent for multiple phases of New Testament resurrections. At any time Jesus can reverse the work of Satan by raising a man from the dead whom the devil has killed pre-maturely. However, there is no evidence that any New Testament saint in an isolated manner has been or will be resurrected in a glorified body before the Second Coming of Jesus. We shall be resurrected "... at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed". (1 Cor. 15:52) Also, Matt. 24:29,31 "Immediately after the tribulation of those days shall the sun be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken: And he shall send his angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other."

    Revelation chapter twenty, verses 5,6,12, and 13 speak of two resurrections, (not three); both are after the tribulation. John 5:28-29 regarding the final judgment day says, "Marvel not at this: for the hour is coming, in the which all that are in the graves shall hear his voice, and shall come forth; they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation." One pre-tribulationist said that I Corinthians 15:23 hints of multiple phases (a series of several separate resurrections) within the first resurrection: "... In Christ shall all be made alive. But every man in his own order: Christ the firstfruits; afterward they that are Christ's at his coming." Since this same verse describes what "in his own order" means, that is--first Jesus, then us together--there is still no implication of a third resurrection in this verse. We don't see three major resurrections in the Bible. Revelation chapter 20 is definitive on the subject. It is interesting that Paul said that the topic of the resurrection is an area where people often err when they begin to be carried away by false doctrine.

    A favorite 'pre-trib rapture' scripture is 1 Thessalonians 4:16. Compared to the trump in Matthew and in First Corinthians, is the trump in First Thessalonians just a silent 'dog-whistle', or is it a true 'trump of God'? Exodus says that God's trump is "loud" and "noisy". Christ comes with a shout, with the voice of the archangel. Is Jesus' coming then secret? NO. As a thief comes, Jesus will come unexpectedly to the wicked, but His coming will not surprise the people of God. (1 Thess.5:4) When will Jesus come as a thief to destroy the wicked?:

    "The Day of the Lord shall come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise ..." (2 Pet. 3:10) At the time of Armageddon: "... the battle of the great day of God Almighty. Behold, I come as a thief. Blessed is he that watcheth ..." (Rev. 16:14,3.5) Does Jesus return during a time of 'peace and safety'? NO. At the end of the tribulation, while liars and evil men, as usual, shall prophesy "peace and safety" sudden destruction shall come. 1 Thess. 5:3) "... They have seduced My people, saying, Peace; and there was no peace ..." (Ezek. 13:10)

    How many 'comings' of Jesus are there? The answer: TWO (Heb. 9:28 "So Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many; and unto them that look for him shall he appear the second time without sin unto salvation." When saints during the tribulation period are looking for Jesus, Jesus will arrive for the second and final time to save them. Can Jesus come down half-way from heaven before the Second Coming? NO!

    "The [third] heaven must receive [Jesus] until the times of restitution of all things ..." (Acts 3:21) The restitution is at the end of the tribulation period. (Daniel 9:24) (ABOVE brackets mine.) "... The Lord said unto my Lord, Sit Thou on My right hand, until I make Thy foes Thy footstool." (Acts 2:34,35) Jesus will not leave the heavenly throne-room until the last day of this millennium.

    From heaven Jesus has sent the Holy Spirit Who will always indwell born-again believers. "Lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world." (Matt. 28:20) If you believe that first John, chapter four is written for all true believers for all time, then the following words are true for tribulation period saints: "Hereby know we that we dwell in Him, and He in us, because He hath given us of His Spirit. Whosoever shall confess that Jesus is the Son of God, God dwelleth in him, and he in God." (1 Jn. 4:13,15) The indwelling Spirit is the 'seal' and 'earnest' (guarantee) "in our hearts" given to all Christians (both Christian gentiles and Christians of Jewish lineage) . Amazingly, many 'pre-trib rapturists' do not believe this! We know that the tribulation saints have the indwelling Holy Spirit because they have the testimony of Jesus: "And the dragon ... went to make war with the remnant of her seed, which ... have the testimony of Jesus Christ." (Revelation 12:17) Look at this: "... After that ye believed, ye were sealed with that Holy Spirit of promise, which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession." (Ephesians 1:13,14) The tribulation saints are redeemed, ("... these were redeemed from among men ..." [Rev. 14:4]) therefore, they are sealed until redemption. When is this redemption?: "Who is this [Jesus!] that cometh from Edom [the east] with dyed [red with blood] garments?" "... For the day of vengeance is in My heart, and the year of My redeemed is come." (Isaiah 63:1,4) The indwelling Spirit is called the "Holy Spirit of promise" (Eph. 1:13 above). A pure pre-tribber believes that the beginning of the tribulation marks the end of the "Church Age" and the seven-year return of an Old Testament dispensation where the Spirit can only come upon, not in. But Galatians chapter three declares:

    14 "That the blessing of Abraham might come on the Gentiles through Jesus Christ; that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith.

    15 Brethren, I speak after the manner of men; Though it be but a man's covenant, yet if it be confirmed, no man disannulleth, or addeth thereto.

    16 Now to Abraham and his seed were the promises made. He saith not, And to seeds, as of many; but as of one, And to thy seed, which is Christ.

    17 And this I say, that the covenant, that was confirmed before of God in Christ, the law, which was four hundred and thirty years after, cannot disannul, that it should make the promise of none effect".

    There you have it: the law cannot disannul the promise of the indwelling Spirit.

    Regarding the "Church Age":

    Pre-tribulationists teach that the Church Age began after Christ's resurrection and will end when the tribulation period begins. This is wrong on both counts. They acknowledge, rightly so, that the "Bride of Christ" is the Church. Moses and the children of Israel in the wilderness are called "the Church" by the evangelist Stephen (Acts 7:38). Also, the Church is built on the Rock (revelation of Christ)-- "They [Moses, etc.]drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them: and that Rock was Christ." [1 Cor. 10:4] The word, church, means "called out"; Abraham, whose spiritual offspring we are (Gal. 3:7,29), was called out of the land of Ur of the Chaldees. Ephesians 3:15 says, "Of whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named," Abraham is our father; he is a member of our family, the Church. The Church is the Tabernacle of David (Acts 15:16). Those in the original tabernacle of David who believed that Messiah would come are in the Church.

    The bride of Christ is not complete until Revelation chapter 21, verses 2,9, and 10, after the next (seventh) millennium, when the new millennial converts to Christ will be added to the Church, that is to say, the bride.

    The Church is built on the rock of the profession of faith in Christ (Matthew 16:16,18). As mentioned above, the tribulation saints profess Christ; they must certainly be part of the Church.

    Likewise, whoever calls upon the name of the Lord shall be saved. (Romans 10:13; Acts 2:21) People will call on the Lord when the sun is black and the moon is red. Those are events which occur in the tribulation. (Acts 2:17-21) and (Revelation 6:12)

    Jesus commanded us not to follow the error of those who proclaim that His return is secretive or private. (Matthew 24:26,27)

    Our Lord not only prayed against the 'pre-trib rapture' mentality (John 17:15), but He taught extensively against it:

    In the parable of the ten virgins all were virgins (virginity represents an outward form of godliness). The groom (Jesus) came unexpectedly, too soon for five of the ten virgins. These five did not know the Lord (Matt. 25:12) and were shut outside the wedding supper of the Lamb. The door the Lord shuts cannot be opened. In the parable of the talents, when the Lord returned unexpectedly, the lazy servant was cast into outer darkness, a place of weeping and gnashing of teeth.

    In Matthew 13, verse 48, notice the fisherman's net containing good fish and bad fish is not drawn to shore until the time when it is full, at the end of the world. The wicked are cast into the furnace of fire. In the parable of the tares (weeds), Jesus said, "Let both grow together until the harvest ... gather ye first the tares, and bind them in bundles to burn them ..." (Matt 13:30)

    Notice two conclusive facts about these parables: First, after Jesus returns, there is no more room for repentance, and no seven-year tribulation. Secondly, the Christian and non-Christian alike are together until the final Second Coming of Jesus, and there is no 'pre-trib rapture' separating the two categories of people.

    Pre-tribulationists say that the seven-year tribulation is the "wedding supper of the Lamb".

    Revelation chapter nineteen says otherwise: the wedding supper begins at the time of Armageddon.

    In the parable of the ten virgins, when the Lord suddenly returns, the five foolish virgins were shut out of the marriage supper. The seven-year tribulation is not the marriage supper of the Lamb Why?--Jesus said, "I know you not" even after they bought new oil.

    There is not a subsequent seven year opportunity to get the oil of the Spirit after Jesus returns. Now is the day of salvation. When Jesus raptures the Church there will be no second chances.

    The 'pre-trib' theory claims that Jesus, Elijah, and Enoch are past examples that foretell of a 'pre-trib rapture'. WRONG. -They foreshadow the 'post-trib rapture', that is, the Second Coming. Before their 'rapture', all three were greatly persecuted until the fulness of time:

    First, Jesus ministered three and a half years until His crucifixion. He had to physically die before He could be raptured.

    Secondly, Elijah lived on meager rations for three and a half years as a hunted fugitive in caves and the desert. (James 5:17)(Lk. 4:25) It is no coincidence that the Tribulation is composed of two 3-and-a-half year sections. Thirdly, Enoch was much hated and spoken against because of his godliness (Jude 15). He lived 365 years, a year for each day of the earth's solar-cycle, representing the fulness of time.

    The time of the 'rapture' is when "the times of the gentiles be fulfilled." (Lk. 21:24) This happens at the end of the last three and a half years. (Rev. 11:2,3,12) With the Lord a thousand years are as one day. Man, who was created on the sixth day is represented by the number 'six'. 2000 A.D., the end of 6000 years, will mark the end of the six days God has allotted in which men may work. The seventh day is the sabbath, the 'rest' of the Lord (Heb. 4:3-11), the wedding supper (Lk. 12:37), the millennial reign. We see this concept graphically acted out, on Mount Transfiguration: Jesus said, "Tell the vision to no man ..." (Matt. 17:9). A vision is prophetic in nature: After six days, or six millenniums, Jesus, Peter, James, and John ascend up the mountain, typifying our future 'rapture' unto Mount Zion. Moses, who died and was buried, is analogous to those who have 'died in Christ', while Elijah (who at the end of his prophetic ministry was caught up alive in the flaming chariot) represents "we which are alive and remain." It would be contradictory if the participants in this real life drama, that is, Peter, James, and John, are 'raptured' seven years before the end of the 'sixth day'.

    Jesus confirmed all these things when He said four times (John chapter six) and again in chapter eleven that the dead would be raised on the last day. In John 5:29, He taught that both the good and evil men come forth from the graves at the same time, and judgment immediately follows. Jesus never mentioned an earlier date for a preliminary resurrection and 'coming'.

    The scriptures that supposedly support the 'pre-trib' rapture are based on the presupposition that the 'pretrib' rapture exists. In other words, 'pre-tribbers' base the interpretation of the Bible on their theory. As discussed already, the following quote in the Bible, says that Jesus will not leave heaven early: "... After He had offered one sacrifice for sins forever, sat down on the right hand of God from henceforth expecting till; His enemies be made His footstool." (Heb. 10:12,13). (SEE Dan.7:9,21,22). Paul observed that when the Lord destroys His foes, only then will the saints obtain rest. (2 Thess. 1:7-10). Was Paul only talking to tribulation saints? NO. He said, "you" and "us": He included himself and the Thessalonians, as we all wait for this rest.

    'Pre-tribulationists' have a zeal for the Lord Jesus and His appearing, as we all should; their research-work of current events shows great diligence. God has used 'pre-tribulationists' to herald the signs of the end-times to bring an awareness to many. But what really underlies this doctrine?


    The spiritual motivation underlying the origin of this speculative 'pretrib rapture' fantasy did not arise from the born-again spirits of its teachers; "For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places." (Eph.6:12) In reality, the hidden emphasis of the 'pre-trib rapture' theory never was 'deliverance from the wrath of God', but the actual theme of the 'pre-trib rapture' doctrine is, "You will escape persecution." Jesus rebuked the spirit motivating a similar statement made by Peter. (Matt. 16:23) Deliverance from God's wrath is certain for the Godly, who will suffer persecution (2 Timothy 3:12). We have already been delivered from wrath by justification by faith, through the blood. (Rom 5:1,9) Persecution is the trial by fire of our faith (like precious gold) which causes the final sanctification of the Spirit unto holiness in Christ, allowing entrance into the kingdom of God. This persecution is not merely mental persecution, as some would say, but rather the word says: "Ye have not yet resisted unto blood, striving against sin," (Heb. 12:4) implying strongly that bloodshed is ahead for us. Remember, "The servant is not greater than his Lord. If they have persecuted me, they will also persecute you." (John l5: 20). "Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow His steps." (1 Pet. 2:21) "The time cometh, that whosoever killeth you will think that he doeth God service." (Jn. 16:2) "Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of His saints." (Ps. 116:15).

    Do you see the inseparable connection between our precious faith and our death which is precious in God's eyes? Faith without works is dead. Jesus is He Who came not by water (words) only, but by water and blood (word and deed).

    It was persecution that caused the dispersion which resulted in the spreading of the gospel to the ends of the earth in the first century. (Acts 8:1,4)(Col. 1:23) Would Jesus equip and commission His church (Acts 1:8) and then contradict Himself by removing this army before the action begins?

    Saints, now I ask you, "Is there a "pre-tribulation rapture?" In light of these facts, your answer will not be a mental, theological conclusion, but instead, a spiritual, moral choice. Will you suffer affliction and the reproach of Christ with the people of God, or will you enjoy the deceptive pleasures of sin for a season?

    Church leaders, I ask you, "What will you teach?" You must give an account for the souls of your flock. Much financial gain is possible for some who would desire the praises of men. But many honest preachers also make the hasty statement, "Let's not argue about the 'rapture'; Let's just get people saved so that they'll be ready whenever Jesus comes." WRONG. The people need mental, emotional, physical, financial, and most importantly, spiritual preparation for the traumatic and tumultuous last days ahead. Throughout the tribulation period, our love, joy, and peace and stability will be a startling testimony to those lost souls who are seeking Christ. So there is much more to preparation than the initial experience of salvation: Add to your (saving) faith virtue, to virtue knowledge, and so on, that we be not barren or unfruitful. After salvation comes the doctrine of baptisms (plural), the equipping. Both the saints and the elders have a grave responsibility to each other and to perishing humanity. The minister's job is to mature the saints for body ministry that we be no more children tossed about by false doctrine, that we, the saints, may in turn, teach the younger sheep. We need to put on our armor, to gird our mind with truth. "For as much then as Christ hath suffered for us in the flesh, arm yourselves likewise with the same mind: for he that hath suffered in the flesh hath ceased from sin." (1 Pet. 4:1) You have just read what the Apostle Peter told his flock. Read what Paul told his congregations: "... We must through much tribulation enter into the kingdom of God." (Acts 14:22) "...We told you before that we should suffer tribulation ..." (1 Thess. 3:4) Here's what Jesus gave to John to give to the church: "... Ye shall have tribulation ten days: be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life." (Rev. 2:10) "Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord from henceforth ..." (Rev. 14:13) Daniel says that the anti-christ will prevail physically against the saints (Dan 7:21), although we will "be strong, and do exploits." (Dan. 11:32). However, we will overcome Satan spiritually by 'loving not our lives unto the death'. (Rev. 12:11) Our authority over the powers of darkness was not given to us for the preservation of flesh; instead, our victory over Satan becomes clear when the bright light of the testimony of Jesus shines through broken clay vessels, with the sure and certain knowledge that the grave has no lasting power over us; "O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?" (1 Cor. 15:55)

    Are you willing to go through the tribulation? Are you prepared? Let's get ready to cross the threshold into this historic epoch!! Awaiting us is the church's greatest opportunity ever to evangelize a dying world.

    The last spiritual awakening will soon shake the nations.

    *Reprinted with permission.

    [1] New Covenant Christians believe this event took place before at the beginning of eart history. Had Satan and his demons not been cast down before now, man would never have been temptable by them. It is their special location here which is the basis of all the trouble in the world.

    This page was created on 11 November 1998