Rapture, Increasing Lawlessness, and the Tribulation, Part 3

March 10, 2015 at 9:08 AM 3 comments

ManOfLawlessnessLast time – Rapture, Increasing Lawlessness, and the Tribulation, Part 2 – we spoke of the increasing lawlessness (mystery of lawlessness) that Paul speaks of in 2 Thessalonians 2 and how the Rapture occurring prior to the Tribulation will allow and enable the lawlessness that will be in society at that point to increase dramatically. Since the true Church will be pulled off this earth in preparation for a time of global wrath from God poured out via three sets of seven or twenty-one total judgments (7 seals, 7 trumpets, 7 bowls), the Holy Spirit will no longer have the Church to use as a means of keeping evil in check. The resultant vacuum created by the Rapture will quickly fill with a major jump in lawlessness. Evil will nearly have complete and unchecked sway over all the earth. I say “nearly” because the Holy Spirit will still be here opening the eyes of the blind, helping them to see that salvation in Jesus is the only way. One of the known ways He will do this is through the 144,000 Jewish evangelists He saves and seals for the task.

Because of the Church’s presence in the world, evil can only do so much. Yes, it is growing as Scripture tells us it will, but it cannot be as bad as evil would like it to be while the Holy Spirit (via the Church) is in the way. His influence in the world must be reduced, at least for a time, to allow lawlessness to gain such a foothold over the entirety of the earth, that there is nothing left but for God to begin pouring out His judgment.

In 1 Thessalonians 4, starting with verse thirteen, Paul provides information about something called the Rapture. Again, the word “rapture” is from the Latin rapturo, which translated to English is Rapture (“caught up”). As Paul clearly notes, he explains this because of direct revelation he received from the Lord (cf. v. 15). Paul was given information that had previously been either unknown or the meaning was unknown. The meaning of these “mysteries” were given to Paul to share with believers during his time and ultimately, during ours as well.

Let’s focus on verses thirteen and fourteen of 1 Thessalonians 4:

13 But we do not want you to be uninformed, brethren, about those who are asleep, so that you will not grieve as do the rest who have no hope. 14 For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who have fallen asleep in Jesus.

I’ve emphasized a portion of the text because I would like to bring out a point that clarifies things regarding the Thessalonian believers and why Paul was not referring to any other form of Rapture except a PreTrib Rapture (one that occurs before the Tribulation). Please note that the main reason Paul is offering insight to the Thessalonians is so that they will not grieve as the world grieves when someone who does not know Jesus dies. Paul wants them to be informed about what will eventually be happening. As we learn in 2 Thessalonians 2, Paul is teaching and correcting their problematic understanding of future events related to the Rapture, the Tribulation, and the second coming itself.

The Thessalonian believers were upset because several of the believers there had already died. The Thessalonians who remained alive were grieving for them, but not because they had died. They were grieving because they mistakenly believed that these folks had missed something. What did they miss? Was it A) The Rapture, B) the Tribulation, or C) the Second Coming?

It appears that they were upset thinking the dead believers had missed the Rapture. We can clearly see this in verses fifteen through eighteen.

15 For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord, will not precede those who have fallen asleep. 16 For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. 17 Then we who are alive and remain will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we shall always be with the Lord. 18 Therefore comfort one another with these words.

Let’s consider something. First, why would the Thessalonian believers be grieving for people who would be missing the Tribulation? Can you imagine it? “Oh Paul, we are so saddened that some believers in our church have now died and will miss the horrors of the Tribulation!” That is so absurd, it’s difficult to believe that there are people who believe that is what they were concerned about. Second, why would these same living believers be upset if they believed the dead believers had missed the Rapture if it doesn’t occur until the end of the Tribulation? Another absurdity.

It seems what the Thessalonian believers were upset about is that the dead believers may have missed the Rapture itself. That much seems clear based on the above verses (15-18). But if the Rapture doesn’t happen until the end of the Tribulation as some believe, were the Thessalonian believers actually grieving over the fact that the dead believers had already died and wouldn’t be part of the tremendous suffering of the Tribulation before they were raptured?

I know there are people today who are constantly complaining about PreTribbers and the alleged fact that we apparently shrink from any type of persecution (as though wishing for the Rapture would make it so). In my view, their protestations simply point to their own twisted arrogance; that they are the true and confirmed Christians because they (think) they are willing to suffer for Christ in any possible way imaginable and PreTribbers aren’t. Another absurdity, but it is difficult to discuss this with someone who holds such a high opinion of themselves while denigrating other brothers and sisters for what they perceive to be a cowardice.

In truth, the Thessalonian believers were grieving because they were concerned that those believers who had recently died would miss the Rapture. The message had come to them that the “day of the Lord” had already begun (cf. 2 Thessalonians 2:1ff). Either some person, a demonic spirit, or counterfeit letter had arrived to that local body of believers telling them that the “day of the Lord” (starting with the onset of the Tribulation) had already begun. This would mean that the Rapture had already taken place since it was to occur before the Tribulation. Paul wrote to clarify to them that neither event had occurred yet, but when the Rapture did occur, those who had died in Christ would go just before those who were alive.

Also in the 2 Thessalonians 2 passage, Paul explains the logical order of events and even though he does not specifically mention the Rapture by name here, he alludes to it by listing the events that would lead up to and inside the Tribulation. He explains that a great falling away (apostasy) would need to occur first that would open the door for the coming “man of sin” to ultimately be revealed to the world.

The level of lawlessness would have to be so great that the entire world would fall under the deception where they would gladly receive this man of sin while rejecting God Himself. When the Rapture does occur, those who are dead “in Christ” (this does not include Old Testament saints), then those alive will be caught up to meet with the Lord in the air. It is clear from the above text that we meet the Lord in the air and in the clouds. Some then assume that Jesus continues His trek to the earth with those who have been caught up to meet Him in the air. If so, then this is the end of the Tribulation when He comes back to earth and sets up His Millennial Kingdom. This would make the Rapture coincide with His second coming and there are numerous problems with that view.

In commenting on 1 Thessalonians 4:18, Dr. Thomas Constable notes the following:

“…the view of a posttribulational rapture is impossible for the simple reason that it makes meaningless the very argument that Paul was presenting in the Thessalonian letters. Paul was arguing for the imminence of Christ’s return. This is to be the major source of comfort for suffering believers. If Christ will not come until after the great tribulation (that is, a special period of unusual and intense suffering still in the future), then the return of the Lord is not imminent and tribulation rather than deliverance is what we must anticipate.”

There is great misunderstanding related to the concept of “imminence” today. It does not mean “soon,” but actually means “at any moment.” Postribbers believe there are any numbers of things that must occur prior to the Lord’s physical return. Unfortunately, if this is true, then Paul has no clue as to the actual meaning of “imminence” and he is giving the Thessalonian believers false hope.

In reality, “imminence” means that Jesus is standing on the other side of the door and could walk through it at any moment. Obviously, God alone knows the exact time when He will do so to call His Bride up to meet Him. We do not and because of that, it appears to us as an “at any moment” situation. We also need to understand that God is outside time and therefore not constrained by it. The only time He is so, is when He voluntarily comes into our dimension. Currently, though God is omnipresent, He operates from outside our sphere of time, yet sees everything at once.

The Rapture of the Church is imminent and therefore, could happen at any moment. There is nothing – that we know of – that keeps Him from calling us up to Him right now, except His own timing, of which, we are not privy.

To wrap this up, Paul was doing his level best to comfort the Thessalonian believers by eradicating the error that was seeking to infiltrate that local body. He was setting the record straight by telling them what was what regarding the Rapture and the start of the Tribulation.

The Rapture is PreTrib in nature. It will happen prior to the beginning of the Tribulation. It needs to do so in order that lawlessness might become truly lawless. This will help pave the way in global society to receive the “man of sin” who will be the embodiment of lawlessness himself. It is not so much that the world itself will become more evil through malicious crimes and lack of concern for other humans. That will certainly be part of it. The lawlessness that Paul speaks of is the result of global society doing everything they can to rid themselves of the belief in God and His absolute truth.

As long as the true Church is in society, the Holy Spirit holds things in check, not allowing this world to become as lawless as it will be once the true Church is gone. Once the true Church is gone, so too, is a major avenue of influence that the Holy Spirit uses to literally keep Satan at bay. Lawlessness in the form of a society being thoroughly “anti-God” will become so emboldened leading up to the Tribulation (after the Rapture) that as Jesus said, “For then there will be a great tribulation, such as has not occurred since the beginning of the world until now, nor ever will,” (Matthew 24:21).

Folks, that is huge. It is not simply a statement. Jesus is telling us that whatever has come before by way of distress, tribulation, madness, violence, and lawlessness, will not be as great as what this world will experience during the Tribulation period. If we can imagine Satan and his minions being given nearly free rein throughout the globe, we will have some idea of what Jesus is referring to here.

But the world cannot get to that point as long as the Holy Spirit is working through the presence of the invisible Church. People are constantly complaining about the way the church is asleep or has failed. What they fail to see is that God’s invisible Church, Christ’s Bride is fine. He is the Author and Perfector of our faith and will finish what He began. He will bring His purposes to fruition in and through the Church.

The only “church” that is asleep at the wheel is the visible Church, filled with false teachers. That “church” has nothing to do with Christ’s Bride and people need to be aware of that huge difference.

Our job – as true Christians – is not to change America (we can’t). Our job is to fulfill the Great Commission. Take no thought about tomorrow because there is enough evil in this current day. Focus on spreading the gospel, preaching to the lost, and inviting people to come to know Jesus Christ, the only One who can save them from sin and eternal death.

In the meantime, look up, understand that things are moving according to God’s pace and program, regardless of how things look. He is not unable. He is not asleep. He is not uncaring. His purposes – all of them – will be fulfilled as they are being fulfilled. You don’t have to concern yourself with that. You only have to concern yourself with being a solid witness – in word and deed – regarding the saving grace of Jesus Christ, who gave Himself for us that we might live. This good news needs to be spread far and wide, while there is time and while it is still day.

Entry filed under: christianity, Posttribulational Rapture, Pretribulational Rapture, rapture, Religious - Christian - End Times, Religious - Christian - Prophecy, Religious - Christian - Theology, salvation. Tags: , .

Rapture, Increasing Lawlessness, and the Tribulation, Part 2 Rapture Will Impact the World as Will the Deluding Influence that Follows It

3 Comments

  • 1. Fernanda pinillos  |  March 16, 2015 at 2:34 AM

    I would like to add that the correct translation from the Hebrew for that word “lawlessness” is Torah less, without Torah. That is what it means. God is not speaking here about the law of men but of His divine direction, the Manuel He created to guard and guide His creation. Remember Jesus was called the living word(which word? The apostles letters were not written when He came), the living Torah. Jesus was always against man made religions and traditions that were never part of The Father’s, which He hated (farisees teachings). He was never against His Father’s teachings.

    • 2. modres  |  March 18, 2015 at 5:18 PM

      Thank you, Fernanda. Haven’t had time to verify your information, but sounds reasonable. I would agree that lawlessness is life without God’s law.

  • […] We have been talking about the Rapture, the tremendous increase in lawlessness following that event and the Tribulation itself which begins due to one specific event spoken of in Daniel 9:27. In what will probably be the final installment in this short series, I want to try to paint a picture of what life will be like after the Rapture happens, leading up to and just after the start of the Tribulation period. Of course, the Scripture does it best, but I want to focus on what parts of Scripture tells us so that we can begin to see how horrific life will be for those who remain on this earth after the Rapture occurs. […]


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