The Most Important Thing to Know About the Rapture

When people talk about the timing of the rapture of Christ’s people, they frequently neglect the most important thing which should be considered.  Should Christians be looking for the coming of Christ or should they be preparing to go through the great tribulation?  Such a question actually presents a false dilemma.  Unspeakable harm is done when this is not seen for the false dilemma that it is.  And this dilemma is not seen for what it is whenever it is not well understood that being prepared to meet Christ when He returns and being prepared to faithfully follow Christ through great tribulation can’t rightfully be separated.

Being wholehearted for Jesus Christ means being subject to His Word and submitted to do right in His eyes.  This attitude is necessary to properly live by faith in Him, to prove oneself a faithful subject of His kingdom, and having this attitude at any time brings one into tribulation for His Word’s sake.  One who walks in the light of His Word without compromise will know very well that doing so causes one to enter into a tribulation which they would have avoided otherwise.  And faithfully following Christ can, and likely will, eventually lead one even into great tribulation- and that is so whether or not the world as a whole is in great tribulation.  And following Christ faithfully will bring one on a collision course with the spiritual darkness of the world and into vicious spiritual warfare.  The Apostle Paul wrote what he wrote about taking the whole armor of God in Ephesians chapter six because preparation for the tribulation of great spiritual conflict, and faithfully fighting in fierce spiritual conflict, are essential aspects of true Christianity at all times.  

James 1:27 says: “Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world.”

Not having this pure and undefiled before God is a key example of one can adopt a counterfeit Christianity which disregards key principles of faithfully following Jesus Christ.  Such a faith is vain in God’s eyes- but it will save you from a lot of tribulation before you end in the fire of hell.  Yet truly turning to Jesus Christ will lead one into tribulation for His Word’s sake.  You shouldn’t think this strange when it happens nor turn back when the fire heats up.  

1 Peter 4:12-19: “Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you: But rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ’s sufferings; that, when his glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy.  If ye be reproached for the name of Christ, happy are ye; for the spirit of glory and of God resteth upon you: on their part he is evil spoken of, but on your part he is glorified.  But let none of you suffer as a murderer, or as a thief, or as an evildoer, or as a busybody in other men’s matters.  Yet if any man suffer as a Christian, let him not be ashamed; but let him glorify God on this behalf.  For the time is come that judgment must begin at the house of God: and if it first begin at us, what shall the end be of them that obey not the gospel of God?  And if the righteous scarcely be saved, where shall the ungodly and the sinner appear?  Wherefore let them that suffer according to the will of God commit the keeping of their souls to him in well doing, as unto a faithful Creator.”

I remember once speaking to a man who strongly believed in, and proclaimed his hope in, the pre-tribulation rapture.  He boasted “I’m getting out of here!” regarding how thought he’d be getting out of the world before things got too hard for him.  He had no answer when I asked him about the Christians in other countries already obviously facing great tribulation through persecution and/or great poverty.   If this man had been faithful to the Lord at this point, he would have been partaking in the same tribulation they were going through to some significant degree so that their affliction would not have been off of his radar like it was.  He also would have been doing something, or at least looking for a way to do something, to come to the aid of Christ’s people in their affliction and to contribute to the testimony of Christ being advanced throughout the world.  He also would have been aware to some degree of the great poverty and material affliction which untold millions are going through at the moment and been seeking to visit these poor and needy in their material affliction as well. 

I don’t think it’s reasonable to expect that every honest person will necessarily see the timeline of the end-times exactly the same.  Yet it’s a deadly error to believe that God will rescue Christians from having to go through great tribulation, whether that be in the very final years before Christ returns or any other time.  And it is a closely related and more significant delusion to separate being properly prepared to meet Christ when He returns with diligently keeping His Word now and acclimating oneself to suffering for His name’s sake (something that when truly done is preparing to go great tribulation for His name’s sake).

Therefore, it’s not hard to see that pre-tribulation rapture belief is usually accompanied by a shallow gospel which tells people they can accept Christ as their Savior yet not require and insist that He be obeyed as Lord and followed in all things that His Word teaches.  Such a gospel is false, as well any gospel which doesn’t teach the inevitably of suffering in order to faithfully do this.  This false gospel produces Judases which betray Jesus with a kiss as opportunity for unrighteous gain presents itself and produces people like the Roman soldiers who bow to Jesus with their knees while going about to crucify Him in the hour of trial.  Pre-tribulation rapture belief goes nearly, if not altogether, hand in hand with a lawless gospel and the unconditional eternal security/once saved always saved doctrine (which is the logical outcome of a lawless gospel).  Pre-tribulation rapture teachers typically don’t teach the need to be faithful unto death for Christ’s sake.  How could they logically do so when their belief about God’s ways makes it necessary that God would rescue Christians from having to face great tribulation?   

The widespread belief in the pre-tribulation rapture may very well be more of a symptom of some form of a false gospel of easy-believe-ism, as well as of the overall disregard within Christendom of what the Bible actually says.  It is also heavily related to the false gospel of prosperity.  Just (supposedly) have faith and God will take away your sicknesses, your problems, and give you your best life now until He takes you to heaven.  This is a pathetic falsehood, yet it is popular.  One trip to a Christian bookstore, or to a Christian book section of a major store, will prove this.  And of course, this fits very well with belief in the pre-tribulation rapture too. 

Yet consider how these false gospels and concepts are refuted, even in and through the Scriptural evidence that there will be Christians on earth at the last trumpet who have gone through the tribulation at the end of the age.  The Bible gives evidence of this rather than teaching a pre-tribulation rapture.  And even more evident is the fact that the Bible teaches that Christians need to live faithful to Christ, that the faithful will face tribulation in the Lord, and only those who endure tribulation faithfully in the Lord will inherit salvation and enter the kingdom of God.  Taking to heart the veracity of these principles matters more than someone’s belief about the timeline in the last years before Christ’s coming.  However, wrong suppositions about God’s ways can cause someone to not adequately believe these principles; and these suppositions can be derived from an especially corrupt understanding of the end-times.

John 16:33: “These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace.  In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.”

John 17:14-15: “I have given them thy word; and the world hath hated them, because they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world.   I pray not that thou shouldest take them out of the world, but that thou shouldest keep them from the evil.” 

Matthew 24:9-13: “Then shall they deliver you up to be afflicted, and shall kill you: and ye shall be hated of all nations for my name’s sake.  And then shall many be offended, and shall betray one another, and shall hate one another.  And many false prophets shall rise, and shall deceive many.  And because iniquity (lawlessness) shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold.  But he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved.”

Acts 14:21-22: “And when they had preached the gospel to that city, and had taught many, they returned again to Lystra, and to Iconium, and Antioch, Confirming the souls of the disciples, and exhorting them to continue in the faith, and that we must through much tribulation enter into the kingdom of God.”

What could be clearer?

I will then let Scripture speak below on the timing of the rapture and whether God’s people will be on earth during the tribulation or not.

1 Corinthians 15:51-52: “Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed (Paul is speaking regarding faithful Christians), In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.”  

The rapture of Christ’s people will clearly happen at the last trumpet.  

And then consider Revelation 11:15-18 (the timing of the rapture of Christ’s people and of Christ coming back to the earth to put down the wicked and reign on the earth are also clearly the same): “And the seventh angel sounded (the last of the seven angels sounding his trumpet couldn’t be anything besides the last trumpet); and there were great voices in heaven, saying, The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of his Christ; and he shall reign for ever and ever.  And the four and twenty elders, which sat before God on their seats, fell upon their faces, and worshiped God, Saying, We give thee thanks, O Lord God Almighty, which art, and wast, and art to come; because thou hast taken to thee thy great power, and hast reigned.  And the nations were angry, and thy wrath is come, and the time of the dead, that they should be judged, and that thou shouldest give reward unto thy servants the prophets, and to the saints, and them that fear thy name, small and great; and shouldest destroy them which destroy the earth.”

Revelation 16:15-17: “Behold, I come as a thief.  Blessed is he that watcheth, and keepeth his garments (only truly born-again Christians have garments before God that are worth keeping), lest he walk naked, and they see his shame.  And he gathered them together into a place called in the Hebrew tongue Armageddon.  And the seventh angel poured out his vial into the air; and there came a great voice out of the temple of heaven, from the throne, saying, It is done.”

The foundation of seeking to prepare to meet the Lord, which corresponds to preparing to go through tribulation for Christ’s sake, is expressed by what King David’s servants told him in a moment of great adversity.

2 Samuel 15:15: “And the king’s servants said unto the king, Behold, thy servants are ready to do whatsoever my lord the king shall appoint.”

This statement was expressing the attitude that they should have had towards the King already and should have already been proving in suffering for what was necessary to be faithful to him.  It is no different with the Son of David.

We’d better be ready for the Lord to come at any moment, and we’d better be ready to be faithful to Him through tribulation.  Though many don’t see it this way, in reality, these things are inseparable.  And this is the most important thing to know about the rapture.

Aaron’s email is: [email protected]