Yes, Christians Can Believe in a Pre-Tribulation RaptureBy Robin Schumacher
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Continued from Page One
Space prohibits from going into detail on other Biblical points that can support a pre-tribulation rapture, so let me note them in brief:
• The Church is never mentioned as being on earth during the tribulation in Revelation. While some will say this is an argument from silence, it seems odd that the church is mentioned 19 times in chapters 1-3, never in 6-18, and then reappears after the second coming (chapter 19).
• While Dr. Craig asserts that Revelation never mentions the rapture, a number of theologians point to Revelation 3:10, which describes an event that could very well be the rapture (things to note in the verse are (1) the kept "from" and not "through" phraseology; (2) that an "hour" describes a period of time believers are kept from something; (3) one should ask the question of when an entire period of testing has come upon the whole world as what the verse says will happen).
• A number of theologians believe that Paul had taught the Thessalonians a pre-tribulation rapture and their incorrect angst of being in the tribulation period (which Paul corrects in his second letter to them) was due to their thought they had missed the rapture. Further, it is reasonable to believe that the removal of the restrainer mentioned in 2 Thessalonians 2:6-7 is the Church/Holy Spirit.
• Paul makes the switch from 1 Thessalonians chapter 4 to 5 by using his well-known transitional phrase "Now as to" (Greek: peri de). Paul uses this phrase often when he switches subjects (e.g. 1 Thessalonians 4:9), leading to the reasonable assumption that the rapture discussed in chapter 4 and the Day of the Lord covered in chapter 5 are different events.
• The rapture is a sign-less and imminent event that cannot be discerned, whereas the second coming is preceded by many signs that are very observable.
• The End Times Tribulation is described as not a time for the Church but instead is described by Jeremiah (Jeremiah 30:7) and Daniel (Daniel 9:24) as a time of Jacob's trouble alone.
• Some Biblical commentators believe Enoch (Genesis 5:22–24) who was taken before the Flood to be a type of the Church who will escape from God's wrath, while Noah appears to be a type of the Israeli remnant who will be preserved through God's wrath in the End Times.
Theological Arguments for a Pre-Tribulation Rapture
Speaking from a general theological perspective, there are at least two arguments that lend weight to a pre-tribulation rapture.
The first is that God does not judge the righteous with the wicked.  There should be no debate over whether the End Times events described in Jesus' Olivet Discourse and the book of Revelation can be characterized as judgments from God.
But the Biblical pattern of God's judgment has been one of not judging God's chosen people with unbelievers. Abraham once remarked to God: "Far be it from You to do such a thing, to slay the righteous with the wicked, so that the righteous and the wicked are treated alike. Far be it from You! Shall not the Judge of all the earth deal justly?" (Genesis 18:25).
On this point, John MacArthur says, "It is clear that there is no mention of judgment at all in the Rapture passages, whereas the others major on judgment. It is therefore necessary to conclude that the Rapture occurs at a time other than the judgment. It is best, then, to separate the two events." 
The second reason is that Christ has already taken the wrath of God for believers. 
Revelation makes it clear that God's wrath is being poured out on the world in the End Times (e.g. Revelation 15:1), but Christ took all of God's wrath for believers previously on the cross and has already saved us from it as Paul says repetitively in 1 Thessalonians (1:10, 5:9). Dr. Craig asserts this salvation from God's wrath is limited to the final judgment , but it is difficult to explain why God would have believers endure His End Times judgments over sin after they have been declared sinless, are reconciled to Him through the work of Jesus, and are no longer His enemies (Romans 5:10).
Do the above arguments definitively prove a pre-tribulation rapture? No. But neither can opponents of a pre-tribulation rapture positively prove their timing of the event either. My point in supplying the above arguments has not been to say that Dr. Craig's rapture position is unreasonable. Rather, my objective has been to show that there is indeed warrant for believing in a pre-tribulation rapture and that such belief is not synonymous with belief in a Hobbit.
In the end, the timing of the rapture should certainly not be a divisive issue for the Church. Nearly all believers agree that Jesus will literally and physically return to the world that rejected Him 2,000 years ago, and I think we can all agree that such an event cannot come soon enough.
1. The various positions as to when the rapture will occur include pre-tribulation, partial, mid-tribulation, pre-wrath, and post-tribulation.
2. "Doctrine of the Last Things (Part 2)."
3. See more on this text here: "Apocalypse of Pseudo-Ephraem" and: "Examining an Ancient Pre-Trib Rapture Statement."
4. "The Shepherd of Hermas."
5. "Doctrine of the Last Things (Part 2)."
6. Robert L. Thomas, 1 Thessalonians in The Expositor's Bible Commentary. Pradis electronic edition.
7. Norman Geisler, Systematic Theology, Volume Four (Minneapolis: Bethany House, 2005), pg. 634.
8. John MacArthur, MacArthur New Testament Commentary, 1 & 2 Thessalonians. Quickverse Edition, 2003.
10. "Doctrine of the Last Things (Part 2)."
Image Credit: See-ming Lee; "Opening of the Sky"; Creative Commons
Tags: Biblical-Truth | Controversial-Issues | End-Times | Theological-Beliefs
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