Light for the Last Days

There exist some objections, including the accusation that the pre-tribulation view is not preparing people for the time of trouble that is coming. According to these, those who have believed pre-tribulation view will find themselves in time of trouble instead of being raptured away to paradise. As a result, they will lose their faith, deny the Lord, even take the Mark of the Beast. Therefore, the proponents of this say this (pre-tribulation view) is a dangerous doctrine which will lead people to hell. 

Problems with the pre-Tribulation Rapture?

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So, those who teach the pre-tribulation view are heretics, they will be left behind and are being led astray. 

Their main point is that the pre-tribulation view will leave you vulnerable and likely to lose your faith when you find yourself up against the Antichrist in the Great Tribulation and are being persecuted for your faith.

Is this the case? I agree that there are dangers in some pre-tribulation teaching if it implies that we will be whisked out of the way before anything bad happens and spared all suffering and taken to be with the Lord before anything bad happens. Especially in the light of the fact that people all over the world are suffering some terrible things now in wars, famines, natural disasters, persecutions etc. 

Readiness

In my view, we should be ready for both – a sudden end to our life on earth (either by death or the rapture) and the possibility of suffering for our faith in the Lord. In either case, the one preparation that matters is that we repent of our sins and believe the Gospel: that Christ died for our sins, was buried and rose again the third day, and that we commit our lives to following Jesus, no matter what other people think of us or what happens to us in this life. 

Having Christ in us, the hope of glory, we trust Him to help us through our present troubles and we look forward to the eternal state in which we will be with Him for ever. We are assured of salvation from eternal death and suffering in hell.

In which case we can know the peace of God in all circumstances as Paul wrote in Philippians 4:

Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.

and

… for I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content: 12 I know how to be abased, and I know how to abound. Everywhere and in all things I have learned both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. 13 I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.

Philippians 4.6-13

If we learn how to do this now, we will be well prepared for whatever is to come in our lives, for good and for evil.

It hasn’t happened yet

This fact is a bit obvious but remains significant. Our answer to when the rapture happens – before, in the middle of, or at the end of the tribulation – or even it does not end up happenning at all, is based on our interpretation of prophetic scriptures which, by definition, describe events that have not happened yet.

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In that sense they are deductions, speculation even, based on the Word of God which is inspired by the Holy Spirit, and therefore trustworthy. As a Bible-believing Christian, I believe the events will happen. But how they happen and the exact order is not certain.

Compare this with our belief in events that have happened already, especially the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus. Ultimately, there are only two beliefs you can hold about these.

1. That it happened as recorded in the Gospels.

2. That it did not happen.

You can find all sorts of fudges and grey areas, like people trying to explain the resurrection and saying that it was not necessarily a bodily appearance of the resurrected Lord to the disciples, but an expression of their faith, an experience, something they wanted to happen which made them believe it had happened. But in the end that is a denial of the resurrection as recorded in scripture.

The question is: Did Jesus really die on the cross as a sacrifice for my sins and rise again from the dead, or did He not? I believe He did.

What matters here

It’s the basis of my faith and my hope in salvation and the resurrection of the dead. We look back on the events of the cross, seeing them as a fulfilment of scriptures in the Hebrew prophets, particularly Psalm 22 and Isaiah 53.

Death

14 I am poured out like water,
And all My bones are out of joint;
My heart is like wax;
It has melted within Me.
15 My strength is dried up like a potsherd,
And My tongue clings to My jaws;
You have brought Me to the dust of death.

16 For dogs have surrounded Me;
The congregation of the wicked has enclosed Me.
They pierced My hands and My feet;
17 I can count all My bones.
They look and stare at Me.
18 They divide My garments among them,
And for My clothing they cast lots.

Psalm 22.14-18

Resurrection

27 All the ends of the world
Shall remember and turn to the Lord,
And all the families of the nations
Shall worship before You.
28 For the kingdom is the Lord’s,
And He rules over the nations.

29 All the prosperous of the earth
Shall eat and worship;
All those who go down to the dust
Shall bow before Him,
Even he who cannot keep himself alive.

30 A posterity shall serve Him.
It will be recounted of the Lord to the next generation,
31 They will come and declare His righteousness to a people who will be born,
That He has done this.

Psalm 22.27-31

It occurs to me that if you got together a group of Jewish people who believed the Law (Torah) and the Prophets and believed Psalm 22 and Isaiah 53 were about the Messiah about 20 years before Jesus began His ministry and asked them how these scriptures would be fulfilled, you might have got a lot of different answers.

Death

Surely He has borne our griefs
And carried our sorrows;
Yet we esteemed Him stricken,
Smitten by God, and afflicted.
But He was wounded for our transgressions,
He was bruised for our iniquities;
The chastisement for our peace was upon Him,
And by His stripes we are healed.
All we like sheep have gone astray;
We have turned, every one, to his own way;
And the Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all.

Isaiah 53.4-6

Resurrection

10 … When You make His soul an offering for sin,
He shall see His seed, He shall prolong His days,
And the pleasure of the Lord shall prosper in His hand.
11 He shall see the labor of His soul, and be satisfied.
By His knowledge My righteous Servant shall justify many,
For He shall bear their iniquities.
12 Therefore I will divide Him a portion with the great,
And He shall divide the spoil with the strong,
Because He poured out His soul unto death,

Isaiah 53.10-12

If like me, you believe that these scriptures were fulfilled by Jesus dying and rising again, it is obvious how they were fulfilled.

When it comes to the Second Coming prophecies, my beliefs and teaching are based on scriptures that have not yet happened. They are based on some passages of the Bible which are very difficult to interpret – Daniel, Revelation, 2 Thessalonians 2, and the Olivet Discourse in Matthew 24, Mark 13, Luke 21.

The Second Coming scriptures

So it’s a good idea to have a little bit of charity and flexibility when we are asserting our views on the subject and be open to the idea that the person who puts a different view from ours is not a total heretic on the way to hell, but actually has some valid reasons for their beliefs.

I am not going to discuss issues on which view is correct in this talk, – I did that in the talk on the subject recorded on the Bridge website the 23 July 2023. You can see it here:

We should not be divided over this issue. It is an argument between people who believe everything the Bible teaches about Jesus’ First coming – His virgin birth, His sinless life, His miracles, His divine teaching, His death, resurrection and ascension to heaven as taught in the Gospels.

We are people who believe that salvation and eternal life are found solely by repentance and faith in Jesus.

20 Then He began to rebuke the cities in which most of His mighty works had been done, because they did not repent: 21 “Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! For if the mighty works which were done in you had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes. 22 But I say to you, it will be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon in the day of judgment than for you. 23 And you, Capernaum, who are exalted to heaven, will be brought down to Hades; for if the mighty works which were done in you had been done in Sodom, it would have remained until this day. 24 But I say to you that it shall be more tolerable for the land of Sodom in the day of judgment than for you.”

Matthew 11.20-24

Both sides (pre- and post-Tribulation views) believe that Jesus is coming again, bodily to the earth, that He will take those who believe in Him to Himself, that He will separate the believers from unbelievers.

God, who at various times and in various ways spoke in time past to the fathers by the prophets, has in these last days spoken to us by His Son, whom He has appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the worlds; who being the brightness of His glory and the express image of His person, and upholding all things by the word of His power, when He had by Himself purged our sins, sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high, having become so much better than the angels, as He has by inheritance obtained a more excellent name than they.

and Chapter 2

14 Inasmuch then as the children have partaken of flesh and blood, He Himself likewise shared in the same, that through death He might destroy him who had the power of death, that is, the devil, 15 and release those who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage. 16 For indeed He does not give aid to angels, but He does give aid to the seed of Abraham. 17 Therefore, in all things He had to be made like His brethren, that He might be a merciful and faithful High Priest in things pertaining to God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people. 18 For in that He Himself has suffered, being tempted, He is able to aid those who are tempted.

Hebrews 1-2

He will set up His Messianic Kingdom on earth, binding Satan so that he can no longer deceive the people on earth and finally create a new heavens and new earth in which there will be righteousness, an eternal heaven and an eternal hell.

Tony Pearce

3 comments

  • I beleive in Pre tribulation Tony more than the other trib view points, but also agree with much of what you say regarding how we should always be prepared and not be over speculative. That said, I think it could even be this Janurary according to some very convincing prophetic time lines shown by a YT brother and his biblical calculations relating to Daniels prophecy up until this generation, but if it doesnt, why then would any true born again beleiver lose their faith due it not. Though Im not sure about how new beleivers how they would respond., though I think their faith is so fresh they are just focusing on the Lord Jesus and less on prophecy. One thing is certain pre trib or not God has promised – “That non shall pluck us out of His hand.

  • I find my view of the end-times, notably the pre-trib rapture, is experiential, revelatory and liberating in Christ, as you’d expect from Paul’s testimony of a mystery revealed to him, especially for the benefit of the Gentile Church, though also for Jewish Christians. There’s a witness within which is of the Holy Spirit – a witness of faith I have come to know is of God. In practical terms, the doctrine of the pre-trib rapture (as based on Scripture) is like a key, which when it is tried, opens the lock perfectly and with ease.
    I notice that those not of this view always denigrate it as ‘secret’, motivated by a desire to escape tribulation (which is not so at all), and a product of later centuries from dubious sources (which is a distortion of events). These are all false trails that ‘jam the lock’: they are attempts to discredit the truth. It is however, necessary to apply the right key to the right lock. We must understand that the Church and Israel are separate entities, in relation to the Covenants, and The Time of Jacob’s Trouble (Jeremiah 30). in past centuries, the truth concerning the pre-trib Rapture was in general eclipsed due to the Church’s ‘replacementist’ and a-millennialist conceptions – very much tied to current events in the Middle East.
    We should rely on the witness of the Spirit as the final arbiter, and obedience to the word of truth (Scripture). The Spirit is in the Church, but Scripture hints He will be removed at the Rapture, before the Beast is unleashed on earth, along with ‘The Wrath to Come’ – the Lamb’s opening of the Six Seals of Revelation. So it’s important not to focus on the Rapture in isolation! It should be a blessed and joyous hope, amidst an understanding of imminent (even current) events!

    • Thank you Norman for your careful and insightful comment. As I read it, a picture of previous generations identifying or missing the importance of the rapture (whatever may have been the historical and spiritual context), came to mind. The hope of the rapture is something we must consider as we learn from and respect the gift of Holy Spirit-given Scripture. The same must have been the case for previous generations.

      Of course, as you well say, ‘the Spirit’s key’ must be used in unlocking the correct bolt when seeing and attempting to understand what is relevant and necessary in our circumstances as members of the church and as individuals.

      I am grateful however, that the scope of the end times and its fulfilment in both Old and New Testament prophecies is making it ever more clear that the time must be near.

      Thanks again! Blessings.