Summary: Clear Scriptural account of the coming of Jesus, and a detailed look at Matthew 24.
3. LAYING THE FOUNDATION
We can only build where the Lord built. Solomon said in Psalm 127:1, “Unless the Lord builds the house, they labor in vain who build it.” Any doctrine not firmly supported by a word from God will fall, regardless of how many good and brilliant men believe and teach it, or how many movies have been made to support it.
There are two chapters of Scripture that indicate clearly the order of events of that fateful season of earth’s history known as the Day of the Lord: Matthew 24 and II Thessalonians 2. Both of these passages say that signs will tell us of the season of Jesus’ coming. Signs first, then Christ comes. Please read again these statements:
Matthew 24:12-31: “...because lawlessness will abound, the love of many will grow cold...when you see the abomination of desolation...then will be great tribulation...Immediately after the tribulation of those days ...the sign of the Son of Man will appear in heaven...and He will send His angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they will gather together His elect…” “After” is post. “Tribulation” is tribulation. The “gathering” of the elect is what is called today rapture. Post-tribulation rapture. So clear.
II Thessalonians 2:2-3: “...the day of Christ...will not come unless the falling away comes first, and the man of sin is revealed...who...sits as God in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God.” First the falling away of professing Christians, then the works of the antichrist, which bring on the Matthew 24 tribulation, then the day of Christ.
The pre-tribulation rapture position is not stated in any passage of Scripture and is dependent totally on logic and assumption. In fairness we must add that the logic is quite sensible at times and even has the appearance of Scriptural backing, but the theory is man-made, connects ideas randomly and without proof, and thus cannot stand. Many have forsaken this theory already.
All Biblical doctrines must begin in the Bible, not merely find support there. For example, we are all aware of church teachers who follow with great admiration ungodly secular geologists. These scientists find bones they claim are millions of years old, and the church, not wanting to be considered out of touch, tries to find Scriptural ways to justify an old earth, which is the scientific community’s conclusion about those bones. A twist here and a change there, and before you know it, the secular scientists start to sound good. On the other hand, Bible-believing scientists see the same bones and demand that the evidence pass the test of the revelation already given in Scripture. They adjust science to the Bible and come up with different findings altogether.
Some believers of a few generations ago concluded either through a “revelation” as from God or through a false conclusion of Scripture, that it would be impossible for Jesus to fulfill all the Scriptures about His coming by only one appearance. Therefore, they reasoned, there must be two. It made sense to many, and the teaching has spread like wildfire. Before ordinary believers had a chance to study the pre-tribulation issue, they were told that Jesus will appear in the sky and take them to heaven the moment it looks like the world is going to go through its greatest trouble. Sounded good. Scriptures here and there that seemed to back up the position were deposited in their minds, and the doctrine settled in as truth.
It is time for ordinary believers to search the Scriptures , and begin their formation of theology with clear words from God, not with an unverified statement of a Bible teacher, not even with a “supernatural” manifestation. The Thessalonian church experienced all of that and even received a letter with Paul’s name on it stating the same thing:
II Thessalonians 2:2 “[do not ] be soon shaken in mind or troubled, either by spirit or by word or by letter, as if from us, as though the day of Christ had come.”
Jesus and His most published author Paul have both spoken. The word is after. Who can miss this? I confess that I did for some time. When teachings are repeated by well known brothers and then even incorporated in the motion picture industry, they certainly seem to be authoritative.
4. ABOUT MATTHEW 24
In order for pre-tribulation teachers to get around the clear teaching of Matthew 24, they will have to assume that this chapter is written to and about someone else. They will have to say that this subject is for Jews only, and has nothing to do with the Christian Church. They will point out that it is Israel that is going to be punished for its rejection of God’s program, especially their treatment of Messiah. Being told that, believers skip over the clearest evidence in Scripture for a post-tribulation catching-up with Jesus. After all, if Jesus was talking to Jews, that explains why He doesn’t mention the “secret” coming for Christians.