Imminency Is Not Scriptural…
Yep, I’m hammering this home, because Posttribbers hammer things like this all the time. Please understand, I’m not being vindictive, or vitriolic, or sarcastic, and I could easily move into that mode, but what would that accomplish?
Posttribbers like Dave MacPherson, and others like to loudly proclaim the idea that the doctrine of imminency is not found in Scripture…when it is related to the Rapture. That’s their opinion, but I have noticed that their own definition of imminency does not square with Scripture. “Soon” is not a synonym for imminent. The word imminent, when used Scripturally, normally refers to the possibility of something happening at any moment. In other words, there is nothing keeping it from happening, except a decision. In the case of the Rapture, there simply needs to be a nod from God, the Father to God the Son and the Rapture happens.
Posttribbers like to point out that imminency (they mean “soon”) is not part of the Rapture equation. With that definition, I would not disagree. However, since imminency means at any moment, then they are not standing on a firm foundation. They go to great extra-biblical lengths in their attempt to show that the Rapture will not occur until the actual, physical 2nd Coming of Jesus Christ, when His feet touch the Mt. of Olives, splitting it into two. These extra-biblical arguments are referred to again and again, all the while, the Posttribber complains that the PreTribber is constantly deferring to extra-biblical argumentation. In point of fact, it was NOT the PreTribber who first deferred to the created scenario which indicated that a 15 year-old girl gave the idea of a PreTrib Rapture to Darby. Posttribbers did that. PreTribbers began writing about it to rebut MacPherson’s claims. No one was convinced – those who were already inclined to believe MacPherson’s every word, followed through with complete belief. Those who questioned him were seen as “revisionists.” Never mind, that MacPherson has also seemed to revise things (by ignoring, glossing over, or what have you), in his repeated attempts to create a conspiracy theory that is seen by intelligent people as nearly impossible to believe (that a 15 year-old girl, and a couple of men could completely bamboozle the entirety of the visible church!). But why allow intelligence to override what someone has taken 8 books to explain? Apparently, this conspiracy is so convoluted and involved that it makes 9/11 look like it was done by children.
If we consider most of the extra-biblical arguments surrounding the many Rapture views, with specific reference to the PreTrib Rapture scenario of course, we find that it is not the PreTribber that has gone off into the extra-biblical, but it has been others who have done that. The PreTribber has taken the time to respond to these arguments and they have done so not in the style of Dave “Mr. Sarcasm” MacPherson, but in a style of love, patience and endurance, hopefully glorifying God in the process. Still, the accusations by Posttribbers that PreTribbers simply argue from the extra-biblical, persists.
I say we stick with Scripture and Scripture only, unless the argument outside of Scripture directly impacts the Bible itself. For instance, in an argument with Preterists, who believe that Revelation was written prior to the fall of the Temple (they prefer an A.D. 65ish date), one need only consider the fact that at least one city that John wrote to did not even exist in A.D. 65, having been destroyed and not yet rebuilt! That type of extra-biblical argument directly impacts the dating of the book. In this case, it is not “hearsay” or “circumstantial evidence,” but evidence that has actual meat to it, supplying some missing pieces to the puzzle.
In the case of the Rapture, the event that Paul first reveals is clearly taught in Scripture. Determining the timing of it depends upon how one views aspects of Scripture which deal with it. One of the largest arguments for a PreTrib Rapture is found in the letters to the Thessalonians themselves. What is most interesting is what Paul does not say. Can you imagine an apostle not saying one word of preparation about the upcoming Tribulation to the people he was writing to, and at the same time convincing them that they should not mourn for those who already “fell asleep” in the Lord because they have not “missed it?” Missed what? For the masochistic Posttribber who believes that he is blessed to partake of the upcoming wrath of the Lord during the final seven years of human history, Paul is obviously talking about the Tribulation. However, to those who do not believe that they have to “prove” anything to the Lord, and that they will in fact, be raptured out prior to the Tribulation, Paul is speaking of the Rapture. The argument though rages because of the phrase “day of the Lord.” Posttribbers generally believe this to refer to one specific day; the day Jesus actual returns to the earth. Unfortunately, many other references to the “day of the Lord” indicate a period of time, including but not limited to, the Tribulation itself.
This is one of the major sticking points in determing how people understand the phrase “day of the Lord.” If you – after having studied, spending hours verifying the meaning of that phrase and others similar to it - are convinced that it refers merely and specifically to the actual one day upon which the Lord returns, then you go with that. Paul then can only be referring to that one day, which occurs at the end of the Tribulation. However, if your study has brought you to the conclusion that the phrase “the day of the Lord” refers to a period of time, including the Tribulation, then that is the direction you go in. In that case, then Paul is giving us a breakdown of the way things will happen “that day cannot happen until” the man of sin is revealed, etc. In this case then, Paul is saying that that “day” cannot begin until the man of sin is revealed. Mid-Tribbers take their cue from this because they believe that Paul then is obviously referring to the mid-point of the Tribulation where the man is fully revealed. However, this is not necessarily the case. Paul could mean “revealed onto the scene” or something similar.
But in any case, the overall sense of meaning is missed if we concentrate solely on word meaning, to the exclusion of Paul’s overall meaning of the entire context of his words to the Thessalonians. It is clear that Paul is telling them to not be sad that some have fallen asleep, because they will not miss “it” (which obviously refers to the Rapture since he explains what happens DURING the Rapture). If Christians were to be here for the Tribulation, I would have thought that Paul would have taken the time to actually be GLAD for those who have fallen asleep. In fact, I would have thought that the Christians in Thessalonica would have also been relieved for them, due to the fact that they would be missing the most horrendous period of time to befall the earth.
Paul takes no time to explain to them what is upcoming in the sense that they need to prepare for it. With all the mysteries that Paul was privileged to reveal and explain to Christians, he spends no time explaining the supposedly impending Tribulation that Christians are to go through. Why? He must have forgotten. No, maybe he did not want to scare them. Who knows? From all outward appearances as we read the letters to the Thessalonians, we are struck by the very loud absence of any admonisions regarding the upcoming Tribulation. That silence speaks volumes and compared with the rest of Scripture that also speaks of the Rapture, we gain a good look at the entire picture.
However, regarding imminency, as I said yesterday, what is undoubtedly imminent (meaning: at any moment), is your death and my death. We are all merely one breath away from the next life. That is imminency and it is not to be messed with, or given another definition. It means, I could die at any time now. Only the Lord knows and He is not tell me. I went to teach my normal college class yesterday, to find out that someone who had worked in the financial aid office unexpectedly die over the weekend. No one was prepared for that. She was in her mid-forties. Gone. Out of this world and into the next. I do not know if she was a Christian. In fact, I never met her and only knew of her by name. The tragedy is that if she was not a Christian, it is too late for that. Her decision (one way or another) was made during this life, either by cognitively receiving or rejecting Christ or by ignoring it and rejecting Him by default.
This is why we are here, ladies and gentlemen. We are here to be a living witness now. We do not know how much longer the Lord has chosen to give us, but we must work while there is light, because soon the light may be fully gone and then no one will work. The reality of living in this world as a Christian is that while our death is always imminent, so is our neighbor’s. We must do what we can to ensure that they have heard the Word, in understandable terms so that an intelligent decision can be made. God will use whatever we say for His glory, even if we do not believe our intelligence lives up to His standard (which it does not). It does not matter. God will use any means at His disposal to save those who are perishing. He did it with Zaccheus, the thief on the cross, the Ethopian eunich, and many, many others. He is not looking for polished spokespersons. He is looking for individual Christians, who are fully dedicated to Him, daily dying to Self, and keeping Him enthroned.
We are here to do His bidding, not our own. We are also not here to involve ourselves in endless arguments over things that do not matter. In the coming days, Lord willing, I am going to fully dismantle this stupid argument that says that PreTribbers live carnal, unspiritual lives. THAT my friends, is nothing less than a LIE that has been perpetrated by dishonest Posttribbers, using everything at their disposal to cast doubt on something that they do not agree with, and the fact that some have gone so far as to virulently create a false conspiracy shows just how far they will go to castigate those with which they disagree.
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