Summary: Paul makes the argument for a Pre-Tribulation Rapture by showing us the three events that must first take place. Paul shows us that the Rapture is one of those events.
TITLE:THE NEXT THREE GREAT EVENTS THE LORD HAS PROPHESIED MUST COME TO PASS BEFORE THE TRIBULATION PERIOD BEGINS
[PAUL’S ARGUMENT FOR THE PRE-TRIBULATION RAPTURE OF THE CHURCH]
TEXT: 2 Thessalonians 2:1-8
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.
5 Remember ye not, that, when I was yet with you, I told you these things?
6 And now ye know what withholdeth that he might be revealed in his time.
7 For the mystery of iniquity doth already work: only he who now letteth will let, until he be taken out of the way.
8 And then shall that Wicked be revealed, whom the Lord shall consume with the spirit of his mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness of his coming:
These verses in 2 Thessalonians tells us of a day when the cruel Anti-Christ will come upon the scene to be the ruler of this world. His rule will be for 7 years (To get that time frame in your mind, that is the same length of time Obama has been the President of the United States). During his 7 year reign he will unleash such havoc and cruelty upon the earth, that even Hitler would seem as a choir boy in comparison. Also during this same period of time the Lord will be pouring out His horrific wrath upon the earth. The Beast’s cruelty, mingled with the Lord’s wrath, will make this time the worse time the world has ever seen. Jesus, in Matthew 24:21,22 tells us that;
“For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be.
And except those days should be shortened, there should no flesh be saved: but for the elect’s sake those days shall be shortened”
It is a horrifying thought to think that one will have to experience such a time. As a matter of fact, while ministering to the Church in Thessalonica, Paul had taught that Christians would be exempt from this time, for Jesus will return to take His Church out of the world before that great and terrible day of the Lord began.
The Churches were undergoing such trying times that someone had suggested that they had not been exempted from this period of Great Tribulation, but were actually in it already. No wonder such teaching had shaken them up.
The Apostle Paul made his argument against the false teaching that they were already in the Tribulation Period, by telling them and us that three different things would have to take place before the Tribulation Period on the earth could begin.
I. FIRST, THERE MUST BE A GREAT REBELLION (vs.3)
The Greek word for “falling away” is apostasia, in Acts 21:21 it is translated “forsake”. Paul is saying that before the Anti-Christ can come upon the scene there will be a major, widespread falling away and forsaking of the Faith by millions who once professed a belief in Jesus. Jesus and the Christian Faith will face its greatest rebellion right before the Tribulation Period begins. The end of the age will not end with a revival but with a major apostasy, a wholesale abandonment of the Church and the Christian Faith.
There are two major forces that will be at work causing this great rebellion, this great falling away by millions of nominal Christians.
1. Iniquity (2 Thessalonians 2:10)
In the end day Sin will become more deceptive and acceptable to those who have willfully rejected Jesus, even for those who have been Christian pretenders, yet have never been willing to truly submit their hearts to Jesus.
The unbelievable worldwide acceptance of homosexuality is a prime example of what Paul was warning about. In just a few generations, homosexuality has gone from being seen as an abomination, to a lifestyle which should be celebrated. For those in the light it is easy to see that the whole world now lies in darkness and deception.
We are a world who has now given ourselves over to perversion and every other form of evil. Deceptive iniquity will cause the ranks of the Lord’s army to be thinned, while swelling Satan’s army as never before.