Summary: Message examines weaknesses in the Pre-tribulation Rapture position. Previous message examined the strengths of that position. This series does not advocate for pre, mid, or post. Instead the series is an open pursuit of an answer to the question: Will Christians go through the Tribulation Period.
Today we will resume our study of end times. We have been seeking the answer to one question: Will Christians go through the tribulation period?
We have had four session on this subject. The first session focused on hermeneutics, the method we would use to interpret Scripture. In that message we examined two methods: the allegorical method and the literal method. We prefer the literal method because its interpretation is more soundly anchored in what the Bible actually says. In our second session we considered the biblical purpose of the seven-year tribulation period as an important guide for our study. Those two reasons were found to be: the outpouring of wrath on the ungodly gentile nations and the final corrections of Israel to prepare that nation to receive Messiah Jesus. In that study we analyzed Daniel 9:24-27 closely. In our third message we weighed the pros and cons of a variant of the pretribulation rapture position known as partial or split rapture. That study led to a conclusion that the rapture will probably include all members of the church living at that time. However, many in the visible church may be tares rather than wheat.i Those who have not been genuinely transformed by the grace of God will not be raptured.
Those three messages prepared us to consider the strengths and weaknesses of the three main theories by futurists on the timing of the rapture: the pretribulation, the midtribulation, and the posttribulation positions. In our last message we identified major strengths in the pretribulation theory.
We discussed 5 strengths of the pretribulation teaching:
1. It recognizes the two-fold biblical purpose of the tribulation period.
2. It organizes of the whole biblical revelation on eschatology in a logical, unified system.
3. It seems to follow the sequence in the book of Revelation.
4. It offers a meaningful explanation of the purpose for the rapture.
5. It effectively supports the biblical issue of imminence.
Today we will talk about the weaknesses of that position.
1. 2 Thessalonians 1:3-10 seems to place the rapture with the second coming of Christ.
2. The pretribulation interpretation of 2 Thessalonians 2:1-12 is unconvincing.
3. The relatively recent articulation of the pretribulation position is considered a weakness by some. I will challenge that assumption, but we should consider it.
4. Additional complaints against common applications of this position will also be discussed. These concerns are not so much against the theory itself as the way it is often applied.
5. The way the New Testament uses three Greek words in reference to the coming of the Lord points toward a posttribulation position.
I. 2 THESS. :3-10 seems to place the RAPTURE WITH THE 2ND COMING OF CHRIST.
As we read that passage allow it to speak to you concerning the timing of the rapture.
“We are bound to thank God always for you, brethren, as it is fitting, because your faith grows exceedingly, and the love of every one of you all abounds toward each other, 4 so that we ourselves boast of you among the churches of God for your patience and faith in all your persecutions and tribulations that you endure, 5 which is manifest evidence of the righteous judgment of God, that you may be counted worthy of the kingdom of God, for which you also suffer; 6 since it is a righteous thing with God to repay with tribulation those who trouble you, 7 and to give you who are troubled rest with us when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with His mighty angels, 8 in flaming fire taking vengeance on those who do not know God, and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. 9 These shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power, 10 when He comes, in that Day, to be glorified in His saints and to be admired among all those who believe, because our testimony among you was believed.”ii
Notice the first “when” in the middle of verse 7: “when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with His mighty angels, 8 in flaming fire taking vengeance on those who do not know God. . . .” That is clearly a description of the 2nd Coming to earth described in Revelation 19.iii
Now look at the second “when” in verse 10: “when He comes, in that Day, to be glorified in His saints and to be admired among all those who believe. . . .” This “when” is linked with the previous “when” with the phrase “in that Day.” At the same time the Lord comes “in flaming fire taking vengeance on those who do not know God,” He also comes, in that Day, to be glorified in His saints and to be admired among all those who believe. . . .”iv We can’t say that refers to tribulation saints because Paul specifically includes the Thessalonian readers in the last part of verse 10: “because our testimony among you was believed.”