A Response to "Why Do Some Teach That the Church Will Endure the Tribulation?"


By Jerry Giese

 

Prerequisite: Why Do Some Teach that the Church Will Endure the Tribulation?

by Grant Jeffrey

Related Reading: Revisers of Pre-Trib History by Dave MacPherson

 

Grant Jeffrey asserts "Several incorrect premises have caused some to reject the pretribulation Rapture and accept the position called the ‘postribulation Rapture.’" He lays out three premises . "The first premise," says Jeffrey, " is an emotional contention that it would be unfair for the modern Church to escape to heaven scot free to escape the martyrdom that other believers have experienced." He continues: "While it is easy to understand such an emotion, it would be wrong to deny the doctrine of the pretribulation Rapture on this basis alone." While Jeffrey inserts this question, Is this an "emotional contention" to believe in the pre-trib rapture? After all, I would feel emotionally secure if I was told I was going to escape this time of history.

The premise that Jeffrey lays out must be examined. Throughout the history of the Church, saints have suffered martyrdom, persecutions, slander, and various sufferings for the cause of Jesus Christ. Second of all, Jesus said in John 15 verses 20b "The servant is not greater than his Lord. If they have persecuted me, they will also persecute you..." In Acts 14 verse 22, The apostles said "we must through much tribulation enter into the kingdom of God." And in 2 Timothy 3:12..... "all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution." Throughout scripture, it is guaranteed that godly Christians will suffer persecution. Although I agree with Jeffrey when he says "it would be wrong to deny the doctrine of the pretribulation Rapture on this basis alone," however, one must carefully examine this doctrine in light of Holy Scripture alone. And not just on emotional feelings.

Jeffrey continues: "An underlying attitude of many critics is their incorrect and unscriptural belief that the Church will somehow be purified by enduring the wrath of the Antichrist." However, the Scriptures declare that we are purified solely by the completed work of Christ on the Cross." However, a closer examination of the scriptures needs to be done. James chapter one verses 3 , says "My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations; Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience." And in 2 Thessalonians chapter one, the passage of scripture that's un responded by pretribulationalists such as Jeffrey, says that the church’s persecutions and tribulations is a manifest token of the righteous judgment of God, that they may be counted worthy of the Kingdom of God. (This chapter in 2nd Thessalonians will be covered further later in this article.) Jeffrey’s claim that the belief that the church will be purified by the enduring wrath of the Anti-christ is incorrect when it is put to the test, especially with what is laid out in the above scriptures. It is through persecution, God chooses to purify the Church and count the Church worthy of the kingdom.

Concerning the post-trib position, Jeffrey claims "the postribulation Rapture position can rob the Church of her blessed hope. Jesus promised, ‘I also will keep thee from the hour of temptation, which shall come upon all the world, to try them that dwell upon the earth’ (Revelation 3:10)." As we look further in scripture, Paul wrote "Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Savior Jesus Christ,..." When does this glorious appearing occur? In Matthew 24, Jesus said after the tribulation, "...and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory (Matt 24:30 b)." Therefore the blessed hope is looking for the glorious appearing after the tribulation and not before it as Jeffrey incorrectly claims. Therefore, the church isn’t robbed at all of "The blessed hope."

As we look at the classic verse "I also will keep thee from the hour of temptation," which pre-tribulationalist use to justify their claim is Jesus’ promise to rapture the church before the tribulation. The same author who wrote Jesus’ words in Revelation wrote Jesus’ words in John: "I pray not that that thou shouldest take them out of the world, but that thou shouldest keep them from the evil(John 17:15.)." Therefore, the church will be kept from the hour of temptation without being removed from the earth. Referring back to Jesus’ letter to The Philadelphian Church, immediately after He said he would keep them from the hour, He said "Behold, I come quickly" (Revelation 3:11). And another passage where Jesus says this again is in chapter 22 verse 7 "Behold, I come quickly; and my reward is with me, to give every man according as his work will be." This clearly happens after the tribulation. Yes, Grant, we are to behold that coming!

Jeffrey Says : "The second and more important reason why some are teaching that the Church will be present during this terrible time is the failure to distinguish between God's plan for Israel and His plan for the Church, especially in the prophecy revealed by Christ in Matthew 24." Jeffrey’s statement is rather interesting, because Jesus did not distinguish between God's plan for Israel and His plan for the Church, especially in Matthew 24! There is nowhere in scripture where Jeffrey can literally refer to justify his claim.

He continues further: "They often acknowledge that there is strong biblical evidence for a pretribulation Rapture; however, they inevitably come back to their interpretation of Matthew 24, which seems to indicate that the Rapture follows the events of the Great Tribulation." I don’t know where Jeffrey gets his information from, but I can assure you the reader that when properly examining the context of chapter 24, or any other scripture, there is nothing to indicate any biblical evidence for a pre-trib rapture. There is nowhere in scripture that says Jesus’ coming is before the tribulation. But it is clearly in Scripture Jesus’ coming is after the tribulation. Therefore, Jeffrey uses this comment to mislead his leaders into thinking posttribbers "acknowledge that there is strong biblical evidence for a pretribulation Rapture" to further twist the above idea and to justify his claim of "God’s plan for Israel."

"In the passage in Matthew 24, Christ is on the Temple Mount explaining to His Jewish disciples the events that will occur in Israel and in other nations that will lead to the return of Christ as their Jewish Messiah. The disciples' question that Jesus was answering concerned the coming of Israel's long-promised Kingdom, not the coming of Christ for His Church (which they did not even know about)." What Mr. Jeffrey has just said is misleading. Yes, the Disciples were Jewish. And nothing is said that Jesus will return as the Jewish Messiah, although He will return as Messiah for all follow Him. And of coarse, there is no mention about Him returning for His Church. As we look further in Matthew 28, Jesus said "Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you...(verse 19, 20a). And what does "all things" include? Well, Grant, it includes Jesus’ instruction the sermon on the mount in Matthew 24 which includes His commandment not to believe the false christs which will happen during the Tribulation. This includes His warning to His disciples to flee at the abomination of Desolation. Therefore, if the disciples are to teach disciples of all nations to observe these things, then they must be here at that time. There is no other conclusion.

One Thing Mr. Jeffrey claims in his parentheses is the disciples didn’t know about the Church. However, Jesus instructed Peter in Matthew 16: "And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, "...upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it." And Jesus instructed His disciples in Matthew 18 : "And if he shall neglect to hear them, tell it unto the church: but if he neglect to hear the church, let him be unto thee as an heathen man and a publican" (verse 17). It is clear from these verses in Matthew that Jeffrey claims is simply a fallacy.

"It is easy to forget that, at this point, before the crucifixion of our Lord and the coming of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost, there was no such thing as a Christian Church," claims Jeffrey. This may be true, but as I explained above, The Disciples were to teach Disciples from all nations (who are the church)" to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you..." So at this point, Jeffrey easily forgets Jesus’ teachings in Matthew 16,18, and 28 and inserts his own interpretation to derail the context of the scriptures.

"One of the classic mistakes in interpretation is to take this conversation between Christ and His Jewish disciples concerning the messianic kingdom and read back into it the reality of the Christian Church which did not come into existence until the Jews rejected Christ and God breathed life into His Body of believers," says Jeffrey.  Again this is another classic smoke screen Jeffrey uses in order to distort the context of scripture. Jesus did know the future and He knew about the church. After all, He is God! It is the likes of Jeffrey to assume the "Jewish messiah" in relation to Israel in Matthew 24. Jesus knew these Disciples will be the early Church leaders. And this is not in relation at all to just Israel.

"Since Christ does not mention the Church to His disciples in this conversation, the plain interpretation is that Israel is the primary focus of the Prophecy of Matthew 24," claims Jeffrey. However, does he point out in scripture where it says so? Of coarse not because there isn’t any.

There Are Many examples in scripture when Jesus taught, or prophesied, the scripture was used to show His intent. For example, in John Chapter 2, Jesus said "destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up (v19)."

John wrote the intention: "But he spake of the temple of his body (v21).

Since Jeffrey claims that Matthew 24 "Christ is on the Temple Mount explaining to His Jewish disciples the events that will occur in Israel and in other nations that will lead to the return of Christ as their Jewish Messiah," does he point out in scripture this is so? NO.

Nowhere in the Gospels or in any part of scripture is there any distinction between Israel and the Church. Not One! On the other hand in Ephesians chapter 2:

Wherefore remember, that ye being in time past Gentiles in the flesh, who are called Uncircumcision by that which is called the Circumcision in the flesh made by hands; That at that time ye were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world...Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellowcitizens with the saints, and of the household of God;

Ephesians 2:11,12, 19

As Paul explained that the Gentiles at the time they were without Christ they were aliens from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers from the covenants of the promise. Did Paul say they were still aliens from the Commonwealth of Israel. No! Paul however said that when they became saved, they were no longer strangers but fellow citizens of God’s household (Israel) and the Saints. Therefore, the above passage alone nullifies Mr. Jeffrey’s claim.

Since Mr Jeffrey continues with the line "Since Christ does not mention the Church to His disciples in this conversation, the plain interpretation is that Israel is the primary focus of the Prophecy of Matthew 24," I need not further answer this circular claim since I answered it previously. But I will further comment on His Statement : "Matthew 24 speaks of the Great Tribulation, and beginning at verse 15,Christ states that the Antichrist will set up the ‘abomination of desolation’ (a supernatural statue of the Antichrist) to be worshiped in the Temple. In verses 40 and 41, Jesus says, ‘Then shall two be in the field; the one shall be taken, and the other left other left. Two women shall be grinding at the mill; the one shall be taken, and the other left. ’A vital question for students of the Bible is the identity of these people who ‘shall be taken.’ Does this prophecy refer to the Church or does it reveal God's plans for the Tribulation saint who become believers after the Rapture?" My response to his "vital question" is the ones who are taken do not refer to the Church nor does it reveal God’s plans for the "Tribulation saints..." Pretribulationalists misuse verses 40 and 41 to justify a pre-trib rapture. As a matter of fact there are pretribulationalists who disagree that the above verses refer to a rapture at all. For example, teachers like Dwight Pentecost and one of the most noted Pretribulationalists, the late John Walvoord believe this is entirely different from a rapture and it happens after the Tribulation. I have covered this topic in two articles "Left Behind: A Study in Matthew Chapter 24"1and "Take to One Self."2 Looking at verses 40 and 41, you must read the context of verses 36-40 before to get an understanding of verses 40 and 41. And Pentecost and Walvoord both agree the ones taken just as in the flood were destroyed and the ones who were left were Noah and those inside the ark (Gen 7:21-23). Therefore the ones taken at the Lord’s coming will be destroyed! They will not be raptured before the Tribulation! (I don’t know how anyone can get a rapture compared to the days of Noah, especially when no one was raptured during the time God instructed Noah to build the Ark and the time of the flood.)

After Jeffrey asks the question "does this prophecy refer to the Church or does it reveal God's plans for the Tribulation saint who become believers after the Rapture?" He further continues his justification considering the Rapture. He Says "This chapter tells us that at the end of the Great Tribulation, God will send His angels and ‘they shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other’ (verse 31). These ‘elect’ are the people who become believers during the Great Tribulation of three and one-half years. This gathering together is not the Rapture. This gathering of Tribulation believers takes place at the end of the Tribulation, whereas the Rapture of the Church occurs sometime prior to the beginning of the Great Tribulation when Antichrist sets himself up as "God" in the Temple. Notice that the angels ‘gather the elect’ (verse 31), whereas, at the time of the Rapture, ‘The Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first’ (1Thessalonians 4:16--17)." As Jeffrey continues to not to use any verses that specifically says that Jesus will rapture the church before the tribulation, He dares to split hairs with scripture.3 Since Jesus specifically said His coming is after the tribulation and none of the writers specifically says that the Lord has a coming before the tribulation, we can conclude that the time that the ones who are caught up in the air to meet Jesus will be gathered by the angels.

As we examine further 1 Thessalonians 4:16, Jeffrey agrees "and the dead in Christ shall rise first." My brothers and sisters, when did Jesus say the dead will rise? Remember, the dead will rise first before the rapture. And  the dead in Christ are holding the whole thing up! Concerning those who will rise, Jesus said:

And this is the Father's will which hath sent me, that of all which he hath given me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up again at the last day.

And this is the will of him that sent me, that every one which seeth the Son, and believeth on him, may have everlasting life: and I will raise him up at the last day.

No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him: and I will raise him up at the last day

Whoso eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, hath eternal life; and I will raise him up at the last day.

John 6:39-40, 44, 54

On each statement above, Jesus reiterates " every one which seeth the Son, who so eateth my flesh...I will raise him up at the last day." So everyone who believes in Jesus will be risen at the last day. This is a critical question that must be addressed. If Jesus said everyone, doesn’t this include believers who die during the Tribulation? Since they can’t be risen before the tribulation because they must die after the tribulation, we must conclude that whosoever believes on the Son will be risen on the last day after the tribulation. To further support this view, Jesus further said :

And if any man hear my words, and believe not, I judge him not: for I came not to judge the world, but to save the world. He that rejecteth me, and receiveth not my words, hath one that judgeth him: the word that I have spoken, the same shall judge him in the last day.

 John 12: 18

Therefore, those who do not believe Jesus’ words will be judged at the last day. This is hardly a time that happens before the tribulation. Therefore Grant’s assertion of a pre-trib rapture is totally false and must be entirely rejected on this Scripture alone! And the gathering of all saints will occur after the tribulation (read 2 Thessalonians 2:1-3ff).

Looking back at his prior comments, He says "The Bible describes many Tribulation events that must occur prior to the ‘gathering’ of the Tribulation saints and thus, it cannot be correctly described as ‘imminent.’ These facts have caused many scholars to believe that this "gathering" is, therefore, a different event than the ‘Rapture’ of the Church. However, when we turn our attention to the coming of Christ for His Church, we find that there are no warnings or signals given to indicate the time of the Rapture. The Rapture can literally occur at any time." Again What Jeffrey has just said is false. The rapture cannot happen literally at any time. As shown above, the dead must rise before the rapture. And according to Jesus’ words the dead will rise after the tribulation! It is also interesting to use "scholars" " believe that this ‘gathering’ is, therefore, a different event than the ‘Rapture’ of the Church." Does Jeffrey quote these "scholars" who do? And aren't  doctrines to be examined on the word of God Alone? 4

To further support the scriptural Idea of a post-tribulation rapture, 2nd Thessalonians chapture one needs to be examined. Of coarse, this is the verse that is virtually ignored by pre-tribbers.

Paul, and Silvanus, and Timotheus, unto the church of the Thessalonians in God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ: Grace unto you, and peace, from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. 3 We are bound to thank God always for you, brethren, as it is meet, because that your faith groweth exceedingly, and the charity of every one of you all toward each other aboundeth; So that we ourselves glory in you in the churches of God for your patience and faith in all your persecutions and tribulations that ye endure: Which is a manifest token of the righteous judgment of God, that ye may be counted worthy of the kingdom of God, for which ye also suffer: Seeing it is a righteous thing with God to recompense tribulation to them that trouble you;  And to you who are troubled rest with us, when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with his mighty angels,  In flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ:  Who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power; When he shall come to be glorified in his saints, and to be admired in all them that believe

2 Thessalonians 1:1-10

Paul, a Jewish Apostle, who knew The Old Testament, wrote to the CHURCH at Thessalonica that God will repay those who persecute them and give the CHURCH rest when "when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with his mighty angels, In flaming fire..." One of the important scriptures which virtually goes unnoticed by those who embrace pretribulationalism. One must seriously examine this passage. God will repay the oppressors and give rest to the church. All of this happens at the same time, when Jesus is revealed from heaven in flaming fire! My brothers and sisters, in the scheme of things, any pre-tribber knows that Jesus will not repay the oppressers before the tribulation. They portray his alleged first-stage second coming as one that happens so fast and the church is raptured and everyone else is dumbfounded. Paul wrote they "shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power; When he shall come to be glorified in his saints, and to be admired in all them that believe." This is clearly after the tribulation. My friends, If the church is given rest after the tribulation, They must be here through the tribulation. There are scripture verses which shows that Jesus will come in "flaming fire." In Revelation:

And I saw heaven opened, and behold a white horse; and he that sat upon him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he doth judge and make war. His eyes were as a flame of fire...

Revelation 19:11-12

And in Isaiah:

For, behold, the LORD will come with fire, and with his chariots like a whirlwind, to render his anger with fury, and his rebuke with flames of fire. For by fire and by his sword will the LORD plead with all flesh: and the slain of the LORD shall be many

Isaiah 66:15-16

The above verses prophesies  Jesus’ coming which is after the tribulation which Jesus said He would.

Before I continue on to Jeffrey’s third point, he wrote earlier in his article: "The prophecy teachers, myself included, who believe God promises that Christians will escape 'wrath of God' in the Tribulation often warn believers that persecution is coming, even in NorthAmerica, if the Lord tarries much longer." Mr Jeffrey ties in the wrath of God during the tribulation." but Scripture clearly shows the wrath of God happens on the day of the Lord which is after the tribulation. When God will pour out judgment and wrath during the trinbulation, does this mean "the Church must be removed? Remember, in the scheme of things, the "tribulation saints’ will be present here. Does that mean they are subject to God’s wrath? And if they are protected, as they will be, then God can give "the church" the same proctection as well. It’s absurd to think that God will take the church out to avoid wrath and inflict wrath on the "tribulation saints."

Grant writes earlier "I have not witnessed pretribulation Rapture teachers instructing Christians that they are immune from end-time persecution.’ I will not give judgment on his statement, but I will point out a persecuted saint who wrote that this has happened before:

In China, the Christians were told, "Don't worry, before the tribulation comes you will be translated – "raptured." Then came a terrible persecution. Millions of Christians were tortured to death. Later I heard a Bishop from China say, sadly, "We have failed. We should have made the people strong for persecution rather than telling them Jesus would come first. Tell the people how to be strong in times of persecution, how to stand when the tribulation comes – to stand and not faint."

Corrie Ten Boom.5

So, Mr Jeffrey, take it from a reliable source and think of the consequences when the tribulation happens and what will happen to those who believe in a pre-trib rapture simply because you taught them so.

Jeffry continues with his third point: "The third reason postribulationist writers have attacked the pretribulation Rapture doctrine by claiming that it cannot be true because no Church writer or Reformer ever taught this doctrine until approximately 170 years ago until it was introduced by John Darby, a Plymouth Brethren. Their argument that no one ever saw this "truth" throughout eighteen hundred years of Church history has been very effective, causing many Christians to abandon their belief in the pretribulation Rapture." This shouldn’t be the reason to reject the pre-trib rapture alone. But this should be an alarm to alert believers to take nothing for Granted.  As I have laid out above, the pre-tribulation rapture should be examined in light of scripture alone, and not just by scholars nor by commentaries or study bibles with side notes who were written by fallible men such as C I Scofield.

"The only problem is that their assertion that no one in the early Church taught the pretribulation Rapture has been found to be incorrect." Jeffrey goes on to list some who supposedly taught this docrtine. Since pre-tribulationalism is found void in every since of the word, it doesn’t matter some taught "pretribulationism" to justify Jeffrey’s claim because it fails in light of scripture. And  Since Jeffrey takes scripture out of context, and inserts his thoughts, couldn’t he misquote those he sites as well?6

Footnotes

1. LEFT BEHIND: A Study in Matthew Chapter 24 by Jerry Giese http://www.tribulationcentral.com/mat24study.html

2. Take to One's Self by Jerry Giese  http://www.tribulationcentral.com/oneself.html

3. As also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things; in which are some things hard to be understood, which they that are unlearned and unstable wrest, as they do also the other scriptures, unto their own destruction.

2 Peter 3:16

4. Throughout history, there have been scholars who disagree with scripture which are inspired by the Holy Spirit (2 Timothy 3:16-17). Some argue that the Israelites crossed the Sea of Reeds instead of the Red Sea. There are those who believe the battle of Jericho wasn't literal, but symbolic. Some reject the essential doctrines of the faith such as Christ's Deity, the virgin birth and the death and resurrection of Christ. So it isn't very reliable to always to refer to scholars. And those who do wrestle with scripture should read footnote 3 above.

5. The Coming Tribulation by Corrie Ten Boom Copyright 1974, Logos Journal; http://endtimepilgrim.org/corrie.htm

6. For further reading, please read Revisers of Pretrib Rapture History by Dave MacPherson http://www.tribulationcentral.com/guest/mc-revisers.html .

 

 

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