Gina Miller
Is the church on earth during the tribulation?
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By Gina Miller
April 23, 2013

It has been a gut-wrenching week, between the dead and wounded in the Muslim terrorist Boston bombings and the Texas fertilizer plant explosion and the head-spinning misinformation (and reported cover-up of a Saudi connection to Boston) coming out of Washington and the media. I'm reaching the point of overload, and so I want to turn away from the evil news of today and take a brief look into the timeless Word of God and the end times prophecies as they relate to Jesus' return.

There has been something that has bothered me for quite some time. It is the pre-, or even mid-, tribulation "rapture" doctrine. It is the belief that Jesus is going to "snatch" His church away before the time of terrible tribulation under Antichrist's global dominion. The enormous popularity of the Jenkins and LaHaye Left Behind novel series testifies to the great number of people who believe in the pre-tribulation rapture of the church, and those books did nothing but reinforce this belief.

What I'm going to say will offend many Christians who firmly believe in the pre-tribulation rapture: it is not supported by scripture. I will explain.

What made me decide to finally address this subject in a column was a radio program I heard while driving home from work last Friday afternoon. It was a sermon by Bob Martin, Senior Pastor of Challenge Ministries International. I was captivated by his message, wherein he addressed the very misgivings I have long had about the pre-tribulation rapture teaching. With Bible passage after Bible passage, Pastor Martin laid out the clear truth that Jesus will come back at the end of the tribulation period to gather his saints, first the dead and then those who remain alive, and then the wrath of God will descend on the heavens and earth. Thus, I was inspired to write a brief column on this heavily-debate subject.

According to the Bible, there are certain events that will happen before the return of Jesus. In 2 Thessalonians 2:1-4, Paul, by the Spirit of the Lord, says:

1 Now we beseech you, brethren, by the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and by our gathering together unto him, 2 That ye 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. 3 Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition; 4 Who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, shewing himself that he is God.

Elsewhere, in Matthew 24:14, we read:

And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come.

In an article on the Challenge Ministries website titled, "The Antichrist, Christ and the Future," Pastor Martin writes,

So, if words mean anything, and if the Bible is the inspired word of God, and I believe most firmly that it is, then two things must happen before the return of Christ to earth.

1.The Gospel must be preached to all nations. The Church has thus far failed in that regard, for that has not yet been done.

2.There will come an apostasy, a falling away of the church before Christ returns. (II Thess 2:1–5) Apostasy is not a catching away as in the rapture, but rather, a falling away as in back-sliding, a loss of first love as with the Church At Ephesus.. It is this luke-warmness of the church that allows the rise of the One World Order with its following cashless society and its One World Church, the end times Whore Church as revealed in Chapter 17 of the Book of the Revelation of Jesus Christ.

3.The revelation of the Man of Sin, the Antichrist if you will, precedes the second coming of Christ.

Jesus foretold this falling away of the church.

Matt 24:10-12 10 And then shall many be offended, and shall betray one another, and shall hate one another. 11 And many false prophets shall rise, and shall deceive many. 12 And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold.

So, we see from scripture, that, before Christ returns (1) The Gospel will have been preached to all nations, (Matt 24:14), (2) The church will have grown so lukewarm and so backslidden, she will have become apostate to the point that the Antichrist can make his appearance, (II Thess 2:1–5) and (3) the Antichrist will have appeared on the stage of the One World Government and will have assumed dictatorial powers over the nations.

... Make no mistake about it, this Satanic agenda of a One World Order with its resulting loss by nations, including America, of their sovereignty is very real, and moving inexorably towards future recognition.

Does the bible speak concerning this end time One World Order of Governance? Indeed it does. Both Daniel Chapter 7 and Revelation Chapter 13 speak very clearly concerning this end times, God opposing, oppressive government of Satan over the lives of men.


Revelation 13 and Daniel 7 are clearly speaking about the very last days of terrible tribulation under the global dominion of Satan's man, the Antichrist. Both chapters declare that he is given power to make war against the saints and to overcome them. "Saints" are simply members of the body of Christ, those saved by the grace of Jesus through faith in Him alone. So, if the Antichrist, the beast, is given power to make war against the saints, that means that the saints are indeed present during his last days reign.

In Revelation 15:2-3, we read:

2 And I saw as it were a sea of glass mingled with fire: and them that had gotten the victory over the beast, and over his image, and over his mark, and over the number of his name, stand on the sea of glass, having the harps of God. 3 And they sing the song of Moses the servant of God, and the song of the Lamb, saying, Great and marvelous are thy works, Lord God Almighty; just and true are thy ways, thou King of saints.

These are clearly Christians who "stood firm till the end" and resisted the power of Antichrist during the great tribulation. They did not bow to his image nor take his mark upon themselves, instead they remained faithful to the Lord.

In Matthew 24:29-31, Jesus clearly says that He will return after the tribulation. Later in Matthew 24 are verses that pre-tribulation rapture supporters point to as being the pre-tribulation rapture – the two grinding at the mill or in the field, and one is taken but the other left – but the context of those verses is in the time of the tribulation and of the second coming of Jesus, His only return before the wrath of God descends on the world.

There is simply no evidence in the Bible that Jesus is going to secretly return before his second coming to snatch His church away. I know it is a comforting thought for many Christians, the thought of "getting out of this deal" of unspeakable last days persecution, but Jesus does not tell us we will be spared being here for those days – those of us who are alive then, whenever "then" is.

Although it is a comforting thought, that we could escape the tribulation, I can see how that belief could leave Christians mentally and spiritually unprepared for the awful reality of those last days, since they do not expect to be here then. What a faith-shaking thing it might be!

However, this issue is not a make-or-break salvation issue. As Irvin Baxter, founder and president of End Time Ministries, points out:

The timing of the rapture seems to be the most controversial of all prophecy teachings. However, whether it will occur before, during, or after the tribulation has no bearing on your salvation. God can come for any one of us at any time. Jesus said in Matthew 24,

"Watch therefore: for ye know not what hour your Lord doth come. But know this, that if the goodman of the house had known in what watch the thief would come, he would have watched, and would not have suffered his house to be broken up."


© Gina Miller

 

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