Saturday, June 09, 2007

The Lord Jesus Christ Will Catch Up the Saints Before the Tribulation Begins (part one)

God will pour out His wrath on earth for seven years of tribulation. Genuine believers will be gone before then. 1 Thessalonians 4:16, 17 describes this.
For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.
Christians call this event the rapture, which essentially means, "catching up." It isn't a word in the Bible, but one used to represent this. Much controversy has arisen over the timing of the rapture. Eschatalogical (study of last things) books have exploded in the last fifty years. In more recent times, Christian authors have contradicted the pre-tribulational timing of the catching up of the saints. This series will provide mainly a positive defense of a pretribulational rapture. A grammatical-historical interpretation will lead to a pretribulational view.


I'm saying this is the strongest argument for pre-tribulationalism---the any moment return of Jesus Christ. The New Testament repeatedly exhorts the saints to watch for His return.
2 Timothy 4:8, "Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing."

Titus 2:13, "Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ."

Romans 8:18-23, " 18 For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us. 19 For the earnest expectation of the creature waiteth for the manifestation of the sons of God. 20 For the creature was made subject to vanity, not willingly, but by reason of him who hath subjected the same in hope, 21 Because the creature itself also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God. 22 For we know that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now. 23 And not only they, but ourselves also, which have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body."

James 5:7-9, "7 Be patient therefore, brethren, unto the coming of the Lord. Behold, the husbandman waiteth for the precious fruit of the earth, and hath long patience for it, until he receive the early and latter rain. 8 Be ye also patient; stablish your hearts: for the coming of the Lord draweth nigh. 9 Grudge not one against another, brethren, lest ye be condemned: behold, the judge standeth before the door."

1 Peter 4:7, "But the end of all things is at hand: be ye therefore sober, and watch unto prayer."

Hebrews 10:24, 25, 37, " 24 And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works: 25 Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching. 37 For yet a little while, and he that shall come will come, and will not tarry."

It's as simple as this. If there are preliminary events to be expected, then we don't need to look or watch or expect. All any believer would need to do is wait for that event to occur and then begin the countdown. This is not how the New Testament reads at all.

I believe the denial of imminence is a very serious issue. For me it is a separating issue. Why? Destroying imminence takes away important motivation for holy living in the New Testament.

1 John 3:3, "And every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as he is pure."

Romans 13:11-14, " 11 And that, knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep: for now is our salvation nearer than when we believed. 12 The night is far spent, the day is at hand: let us therefore cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armour of light. 13 Let us walk honestly, as in the day; not in rioting and drunkenness, not in chambering and wantonness, not in strife and envying."

Mark 13:35, 36, "Watch ye therefore: for ye know not when the master of the house cometh, at even, or at midnight, or at the cockcrowing, or in the morning: 36 Lest coming suddenly he find you sleeping."

The New Testament contains so much teaching like this, and there is more than what is listed above, that one is denying the New Testament and contradicting the Lord Jesus Christ when someone denies imminence. I can't stand for it. I can't agree to disagree. I can't associate with that false doctrine. Denying imminence will have a cooling affect on Christians that no one can afford. More than that, it disrespects God and His Word.


Travis said...

I agree 100% with your statement "A grammatical-historical interpretation will lead to a pretribulational view." I also believe that the clear and repeated NT teaching of Christ's imminent return necessitates a pre-trib view of the Rapture. When I read "If there are preliminary events to be expected, then we don't need to look or watch or expect. All any believer would need to do is wait for that event to occur and then begin the countdown." I shouted "Amen!"

Where you lost me is when I read "the denial of imminence...For me a separating issue."

I'm convinced of the pre-trib position. I am not convinced that someone who holds to a mid or post trib position is an unmotivated Christian, nor am I convinced that they are guilty of disrespecting God's Word. They believe in a literal, bodily return. They have the "what" right, just not the "when".

Kent Brandenburg said...

Thanks for commenting Pastor Gilbert. Questions: Is Scripture perspicuous? Clear/Plain? In other words, has God been clear?

Is imminence taught?

Is imminence taught as a motivator of holy living?

If imminence is denied, is this a denial of what God taught? How serious is denying what God taught?

Will a denial of imminence affect holy living since Scripture says it was a motivator of holy living?

How do we Scripturally protect doctrine if it isn't important enough to separate over?

Bro. Jeff Hallmark said...

Thanks for the posting on the 2nd coming of Christ for His "saints".

On Sunday mornings I am preaching through 1 Thess. and finished 4:13-18 last Sunday.

I noted you used a lot of NT verses to show His coming. I too, am working on a series of messages useing each of the NT books which relate to Christ's return.

BTW, I have been enjoying your site for about 7 months now. That when I first started to search and read blogs.

God Bless

Kent Brandenburg said...

Thanks Bro. Jeff. I'm glad you noticed "saints." Scripture doesn't ever say, as you are intimating, that he gathers the church. When I hear that, I usually shake my head at the eisegesis. I read your doctrinal statement. Looks good. Glad to know you.

Anonymous said...

I am confused. The Lord himself tells us to “learn a parable of the fig tree” in Matthew 24:32. Please define “imminence.” I am a layperson and I am not familiar with that doctrine. To say that we are to watch and pray and otherwise prepare for his return is something I see in Scripture and can support. To say that there are two second comings of Christ is a little harder to swallow. I read in Matthew 25 that when the Son of man comes that there will be a dividing of the sheep and goats with the goats receiving eternal punishment.

Kent Brandenburg said...

There aren't two second comings. You can look at it one of two ways, a second coming in two parts, or one cloud appearing and then one touch down, which is the actual second coming. You could take a combination of the two. That doesn't need to be confusing. If the antichrist reveals himself at the start of the tribulation, that takes away from the thief-like mystery of the timing. Then men will know the day and the hour.

Travis said...

Pastor Brandenburg, you pose some excellent questions.
Has Gid been clear? - Yes
Is imminence taught? - Yes
Is it taught as a holy living motivator? - Yes
Is denying immenence a denial of what God has clearly taught? - Yes
How serious is that? - Real serious, but this does not warrant a simple "yes" or "no" answer. Are those folks who hold (wrongly I believe) to a mid- or post-Trib view of the Rapture intentionally denying God's perspicuous teaching? Not in the cases of which I am familiar.
Will said denial affect holy living? - No, because the imminent return of Christ is not the only motivating factor of holy living. The command to be holy as God is holy has nothing to do with eschatology.
How will doctine be protected without separation? - Separation is often necessary to protect doctrinal integrity. This is why I do not accept alien immersion. This is why I do not become involved in ecumenical events. This is why I do not preach in churches that I would not recommend others to join.

In general, I do not think that this is an issue over which we must separate. In certain cases, with certain individuals, separation may be necessary.

Stephen Garrett said...

Dear Brother Kent:

I am confident of the post trib view and have arguments against the pretrib and imminence views that are unanswerable.

Would you care to debate the question? If would have to be in writing.

The word "meet" in I Thess. 4 means to greet so as to accompany Christ back to earth, not Christ take us back to heaven.

Did Jesus not prophesy that Peter would be crucified? How could Peter expect the Lord to come then before he died? Did Jesus not tell Paul that he must testify in Rome? How could Christ have come while he was journeying to Rome?

God bless and take care.

Stephen M. Garrett

Kent Brandenburg said...

Bro. Garrett,

Sorry I had not answered this comment. I have had a few large items on my platter, so did not get back, and had forgotten about it since it is down my list of blogs. My answer to your charge about Peter's death is, first, that I do not deny those passages that teach imminence, and there are many more than what I mentioned, that a plain reading of Scripture would show. The other prophecies do not obliterate that---we look to harmonize as part of a grammatical/historical hermeneutic.
Second, John's Gospel was not written until decades after Peter's death when it would no longer be an issue one way or the other. The information given to Peter would not deter their belief in imminency because on a given day few would know in that day whether Peter was still alive, and most of them were not informed about the predictions. Third, the first book chronologically in the New Testament is James, which appeared around 50 and by this time, Peter was quite old and his own death was imminent in and of itself. I don't think your issues nullify imminency.

Anonymous said...

Bro. Brandenburg,

I appreciate you writing on this subject. I am looking forward to part two and following.

One passage that speaks to the subject of separation on the doctrine eschatology is II Thessalonians 3:14-15.

"And if any man obey not our word by this epistle, note that man, and have no company with him, that he may be ashamed. Yet count him not as an enemy, but admonish him as a brother."

Note that separation takes place relative to obedience to "our word by this epistle," that is, by the teaching of II Thessalonians. II Thessalonians deals in large part with the doctrine of eschatology, specifically the timing of the day of Christ, our gathering unto Him, and related prophetic events. Therefore, as you argue, eschatology is a separating issue.

What is interesting to me is the phrase in verse fourteen, "have no company with him," compared with the phrase in verse fifteen, "but admonish him as a brother." (Could "company" refer to fellowship within the body while "brother" refers to fellowship within the family?) The eschatologically disobedient brother in the church is to be ashamed but is not to be counted as an enemy.

From a practical standpoint, what would happen in a church where the membership all believed different things about the timing of the rapture and the tribulation?

Kent Brandenburg said...

Very good points Brother Grassi, and I actually haven't thought of that point in that context. Very good though, and I would have to deny Scripture to disagree, so I agree.

Unknown said...

Could the passage in 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17 be explained as Christ touching down on the Mount of Olives, with a shout, the dead saints and living Christians? Could it be that Christians will see all the signs Christ gave concerning His return and the end of the world, and then this follows?