Summary: Many questions surround the pre-tribulation rapture theory. It is necessary to ask them.
7. QUESTIONS, QUESTIONS
If there were not some difficult questions that the Scriptures themselves raise regarding this matter, fewer people would give this theory the nod. We prayerfully submit the following explanations of passages that seem to point toward pre-tribulationism.
1. Revelation 3:10, ¡§Because you have kept my command to persevere, I also will keep you from the hour of trial which shall come upon the whole world, to test those who dwell on the earth.¡¨ Question: Isn¡¦t it God¡¦s will to remove His Church from trials?
I have dealt with this passage in a Revelation study, and offer that explanation here:
(Revelation 3:10) There is no direct evidence anywhere in Scripture for a pre-tribulation rapture. But passages like 3:10 are used as indirect proof. Here the ¡§hour of trial¡¨ is called the Great Tribulation, the Philadelphia Church becomes the end-time church in the church-age theory, and the faithful are thus promised they will not have to go through this Tribulation because, it is further assumed, they will be here ¡§caught up¡¨ before that time comes.
Problems with that view: 1. Can we prove that the ¡§hour of trial¡¨ is the full three and one half years? Could it not just as easily be the terrible day of His coming ? Then indeed the saved will be caught up to be with Jesus. 2. To make Philadelphia the end-time church is to make Laodicea the church of the Tribulation, a group of ¡§losers¡¨ who suddenly turn into martyrs for the cause of Christ. 3. Is it not possible that this message is indeed given to a church known in the days of John, and that the promise was kept? Did not Philadelphia escape the last times altogether? 4. Are there not churches in every generation who can claim this promise of escaping the judgment of God if they are faithful? 5. Is it not possible at the very least, that God is able to keep His People from harm in the midst of judgment? Were either Noah or Lot removed from the earth? Do not the 144,000 escape Satan¡¦s plan? When the bowl judgments fall, is it not stated explicitly who is being targeted? Other than persecutions allowed, are God¡¦s people ever harmed when God is pouring wrath on His enemies? It is not proper to make the promise given to an individual church in Asia some generalized promise for all churches of all time. Schwertley says, "The church of Smyrna is told that they ¡¥will have tribulation ten days. Be faithful unto death.¡¦ (Rev.2:10) They are not promised protection from the coming time of tribulation.¡¨ To make the behavior of a particular church in Asia Minor universal in its application ¡§is to render the commendation to the Philadelphians meaningless.¡¨
Also, Jesus indicates strongly here that the time is about to happen. This is not talking about an end-time scenario, but the persecution of their own time, the difficult political situations of their own day. And the Philadelphian church was not ¡§beamed out of the Roman Empire¡¨ but kept from the evil of the days, as Noah and Lot in their generations. Was it not Jesus who said to the Father, ¡§I do not pray that You should take them out of the world, but that You should keep them from the evil one.¡¨ That¡¦s how it works: in the world, but kept from evil. That is what Philadelphia is no doubt being promised.
2. Revelation 4:1, ¡§After these things I looked, and behold, a door standing open in heaven. And the first voice which I heard was like a trumpet speaking with me, saying, ¡§Come up here, and I will show you things which must take place after this.¡¨ Question: Isn¡¦t John¡¦s ¡§rapture¡¨ here meant to indicate that the church is lifted out of the world before any talk of tribulation in the book? Is it not true that the church is not mentioned again after this?
Again, I have dealt with this issue in the Scroll of Revelation:
¡§(Revelation 4:1) Come up hither. Oh the strange work that popular ¡¥theologians¡¦ have done with chapter 4 , verse 1. In this simple passage, John is addressed by Jesus, and told to come up to heaven for further revelations. Incredible to me is the notion that here, Jesus is actually calling His entire Church to Heaven! The statement is made by believers in this interpretation, pre-tribulation rapturists all, that , from this point on, the Church is ¡¥absent¡¦ in the book of Revelation! And when it is pointed out in several places that believers are indeed on earth, the response is made that these believers are really not the ¡¥Church¡¦ , but ¡¥tribulation¡¦ saints, whatever that means. A conclusion is made, and facts to the contrary are explained away. This is not good exegesis, to say the least!