EVIDENCE SUPPORTING A PRE-TRIBULATION RAPTURE

Part 3

REASONS SOME CHRISTIANS REJECT A PRE-TRIBULATION RAPTURE

The pre-Tribulation rapture is rejected by some pre-Millennial Christians for two main reasons:

  • The weak in faith will fall.
  • The responsibility of the Church is to endure the Tribulation.

1. The Weak in Faith will Fall

The fear here is that if a pre-Tribulation rapture does not take place, then many Christians who are weak in faith will fall when faced with the trials of the Tribulation. This argument is extremely weak and in itself reveals a lack of faith in those who hold to it. Also, this concern would be held by Christians who do not believe in the assurance of salvation. They would, therefore, be concerned about Christians losing their salvation if a pre-Tribulation rapture does not occur and then, because of a weakness of faith, backslide. Because of this belief time must be taken to study the doctrine of eternal salvation.

The simple definition of the word ‘doctrine’ is that it is a Biblical instruction, or teaching on a particular matter. For a belief to become doctrine, the general rule of thumb requires that there are at least three scriptures to back the belief. Eternal security or the assurance of salvation has over 400 verses of scripture that confirm the belief and make it a central truth in Christianity. However, there are those sceptics of eternal salvation that will cite scriptures out of context – not addressing the topic of salvation, but rather dealing with rewards, the process of sanctification, warnings to complacent Christians, referring to those who never were genuinely saved in the first place, or refer to end time Judgements of non-believers.

To analyse the veracity of eternal salvation a distinction needs to be made between Justification and Sanctification:

Justification

The words “Justified” and “righteous” come from the same root word in Greek, dikaioō, which means to declare righteous or to justify. The new believer although still a sinner is justified – treated as righteous – because Jesus, who knew no sin became sin for us (2 Cor. 5:21). Justification therefore is a divine act of God which makes a person righteous. Justification has its origins in Grace, freely given to all who call on the name of the Lord. Two things happen at the moment a person heeds the call of God and accepts Jesus as their Lord and saviour. The Holy Spirit regenerates the individual making their spirit – which was dead to God – alive, so the person is reborn into a fellowship with God (John 3:3-8). When God justifies them, the person’s sin is removed from them and placed on Jesus; the penalty for sin is eternally removed. They are declared innocent of all charges brought against them and are guiltless in God’s sight. Justification is a once and-for-all and never repeated. Forgiveness however is repeated throughout the life of the person, removing condemnation; however, that does not alter the believer’s new status that they received through justification. They are reconciled to be at peace with Him (Rom. 5:1 & 10-11; 2 Cor. 5:19). They are made members of His family (Eph. 2:11-12, 1 Pet. 2:4-10). They are His sons adopted into His family with all rights and privileges of a son; they become heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ (Rom. 8:14-17).

Sanctification

Means to be set apart or to be made holy and is the gradual process of being moulded into the likeness of Jesus which continues through the life of the believer; sanctification removes the power of sin over the believer’s life. Justification has to do with our relationship to God, sanctification with our fellowship with God. A believer is able to lose their fellowship with God through by continual sinning, but is unable to lose his relationship with God. In Romans 8:30 Paul clarifies this by writing “and those He predestines, He also called; and whom He called, He also justified; those He justified He also glorified,” Paul leaves out sanctification from the order of salvation in his list in this scripture because:

  1. Our salvation is not dependant of sanctification, only on our justification.
  2. Sanctification requires co-responsibility; we need to work at our sanctification.

If sanctification were part of the order of salvation, we would then nullify our justification and disqualify ourselves from glorification. Our access to heaven therefore is a matter of justification, attained irrespective of sanctification. Eternal life is certain for the believer; discipleship and endurance are not.

Salvation then is an inclusive word, encompassing everything God does for us and intends for us when he saves us. Salvation is the complete work of our Lord Jesus for us. Salvation involves:

  • Justification: A regeneration that happens the moment of our new birth.
  • Sanctification: A progressive growth in righteousness.
  • Glorification: The final state of being, that God intends for the believer to be when He saves them.

Many of the eternal salvation sceptics hold to the belief that a believer can lose his salvation, because they see the behaviour of an individual, and perceive that that person is living in sin and therefore is not worthy of salvation. Jesus on the other hand sees a work in progress, He has purchased that person and is in the process of developing the individual. An analogy would be those craftsmen and women who go to storage auctions; with their trained eye they can see the potential in objects of furniture. They can transform what others would throw away, into valuable pieces which are displayed in high end furniture stores. All it requires to save a piece of furniture from the junk heap and turn it into a prized piece in someone’s home is the skill and the trained eye of the master craftsman.

Scriptural Evidence for the Assurance of Salvation

The following scriptures also confirm that the Bible teaches assurance of salvation:

Everyone who calls will be saved

Both the prophet Joel and the apostle Paul write that “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved” (Joel 2:32; Rom. 10:13; Acts 2:21 [emphasis added]). Believers are saved by grace, through faith (Eph. 2:8). This doctrine sets Christianity apart from all other faiths (religions and cults), which require works for salvation. Cults and false religions will imply man is saved by the fact that he is in some way divine or that he is saved by good works, so when salvation by faith is removed, Christianity becomes the same as any other religion – there is no distinction. The overwhelming testimony of the New Testament is that faith and faith alone is the prerequisite of salvation: the belief in Jesus and the salvation He provided on the cross.

In both Hebrew and Greek, the word for “salvation” has a number of implications; it means deliverance, safety, preservation, healing and soundness. The word Salvation in scripture has a broad definition and includes all the redemptive acts: justification, sanctification, forgiveness, grace, redemption, propitiation, imputation, sanctification and the final result – glorification. When scripture tells us that those that call on the name of the Lord will attain salvation, the fullness of the meaning is implied, from justification through sanctification to glorification. Christians can hardly be “saved” if they can lose their salvation, because they are at the time of their death not fully committed to God. From the moment a person believes in the Lord Jesus they are saved and have eternal life. “Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God’s wrath remains on him” (John 3:36). Eternal life starts from the moment of salvation and by definition has no end! A person, who believes that an individual can lose his salvation, can never be sure of salvation. In their latter years they will need to look back on their life and assess if they have done enough to earn their salvation!

The perfect High Priest

Jesus fulfils the office of the perfect High Priest, bringing the blood of His own sacrifice to the Father in heaven. As High Priest over the Church, Jesus prays for His people. Scripture reveals that Jesus is our advocate, speaking with the Father on behalf of those who sin (1 John 2:1) and secures their salvation, “He is able to save completely those who come to God through Him”. Because He Himself suffered and was tempted, He is a sympathetic High Priest (Heb. 4:14-16). As High Priest Jesus makes a perfect and perpetual intersession for His people, so saving them completely. With the rank of Melchizedek, He lives in the power of an endless Life.

The believer becomes part of the body of Christ

All a person is required to do to attain salvation is believe in their hearts that Jesus is Lord and accept Him as such (John 1:12 cf. James 2:19). God is able to see into the hearts of men to determine their faith, and grant justification at that moment of faith. Justification is the new birth; when the Holy Spirit joins with the individual’s spirit they are born again into a new life with God, and from that moment commence a new relationship with God which will continue into eternity. On being justified a new believer becomes part of the body of Christ (1 Cor. 12:27). To believe that a believer can at some later stage lose his salvation, is to believe that Jesus will mutilate His own body.

The Good Shepherd

The Lord refers to Himself as the Good Shepherd (John 10:11; 10:14), who cares for his sheep. He affirmed, using the metaphor of a Shepherd tending His sheep, that we have eternal life, not conditional life; “my sheep listen to my voice: I know them and they follow me; I gave them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one can snatch them out of my hand” (John 10:27-28).  Jesus could hardly call himself a Good Shepherd if he allowed His sheep to be continually lost or – as some would interpret the scriptures – culled from the herd. In fact, in one of His parables (Matt. 18:12-14) He speaks of the Good Shepherd leaving His flock to find the lost sheep. The sheep chosen by the Good Shepherd do not lose their salvation. For this to happen, someone would have to be able to pluck them out of the loving arms of God (John 10:29).

Salvation is a gift

Scripture makes it repeatedly clear that salvation is a gift from God. An example of this is Paul stating that “The gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Rom. 6:23). Salvation cannot be purchased by money, nor bartered, nor earned through good works. It is a free gift of immense value, an indescribable gift which encompasses the great Love of God. If backslidden believers are able to lose their salvation, then salvation must be conditional and cannot be called a gift. The Merriam Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary describes a gift as something voluntarily transferred by one person to another without compensation. If backslidden believers can lose their salvation, scripture should not be identifying salvation as a gift. God would hardly refer to salvation as a gift from Him, if He intends to retract it because certain conditions have not been met.

In Romans 11:29 Paul confirms that the gift of salvation is eternal when he writes “For the gifts of God are irrevocable”. By “gifts” Paul does not mean natural gifts such as life, health, strength, riches, and honour, which God sometimes gives, and repents of, and takes away; or spiritual gifts which qualify men for ministerial work, for public service in the church; for these may be taken away, which is revealed in the “parable of the talents” (Matt. 25:29; 1 Cor. 13:8). Paul is referring to the special and spiritual gifts of God’s free grace, which relate to eternal salvation. God will never revoke this call, or take salvation away from the persons to whom He has made His divine intent known. The apostle also says the same of the “calling of God”, as of gifts, the call is the justification of the believer which leads to eternal glorification, a call which also can never be rescinded, or changed. 

Salvation is a complete work

The complete work of Jesus is defined in Hebrews 10:17-18, “their sins and iniquities will I remember no more… where remission of these sins, there is no more offering for sin”. Where there is forgiveness, it is all over; God forgives all our sins and forgets all our sins. The author of Hebrews emphasizes this great provision by writing “How shall we escape if we ignore such a great salvation?” (Heb. 2:3). Our salvation is truly great because:

  1. Our salvation was planned by God the Father Himself.
  2. Of the Love that provided it.
  3. Our salvation is free, but it is not cheap. It was brought with a price, the blood of our Lord Jesus.
  4. Salvation is great in scope; it covers our past, present and future. I have been saved, I am being saved and I am going to be saved.
  5. Salvation has the great capacity to transform lives. From the man of sin separated from God, to man forgiven, in union with God.
Salvation is sealed by the Holy Spirit

The Holy Spirit is the one who supernaturally makes alive (regenerates) our dead spirits and who thereby imparts to us eternal life and causes us to be “born again” (John 3:3-8; Eph. 2:1-5; Tit. 3:5; 1Pet. 1:3; 2:23). This act is instantaneous (justification). It imparts a new nature (2 Cor. 5:17; Phil. 1:6); a new capacity to serve righteousness and grow into the image of God – although the old nature and its fruits are not yet eradicated (sanctification). On accepting Jesus as Lord and Saviour the person is marked with “a seal, the promised Holy Spirit” (Eph. 1:13). The seal of the Holy Spirit is “a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession” (Eph. 1:14). The indwelling Spirit is a mark of God’s ownership of the new believer and therefore also of security. The presence of the Holy Spirit in them guarantees their full and final salvation. A seal during the Gospel period was a mark of ownership and protection. So, to lose their salvation, the covenant seal of ownership and protection which made them God’s purchased possession, will have to be broken and the Holy Spirit, Who is promised to indwell the believer forever (John 14:16), must then be removed – which is impossible!

Salvation cannot be earned by works

The apostle Paul, writing to the Ephesians, pens the most quoted portion of scripture on salvation, “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith – and this is not from yourselves, it is a gift of God – not by works, so that no-one can boast” (Eph. 2:8-9; emphasis added). Paul makes it very clear that salvation is through the grace of God, by faith. Salvation cannot be earned by good works, and our righteousness is like filthy rags to God (Isa. 64:6). If salvation can be lost, this means a believer’s salvation is dependent on good works. Christianity then becomes like Hinduism or Islam where the individual can never be sure they have done enough to meet the requirements for salvation. For if salvation can be lost, no one can ever be sure they have done enough to earn a place in heaven. Christianity does not have a doctrine of works. Christians will never be able to stand before God and claim that effort on their part enabled them to attain salvation. So, to believe people who accept Jesus as Lord and saviour can later in life lose their salvation because of backsliding, means that this salvation is dependent on works. This brings Christianity down to the level of pagan faiths. God will not tolerate a spiritual mixture; this is clearly shown in Leviticus 19:19, where the Jews on being given the law were forbidden to wear clothes of wool and flax (linen). Wool is a natural fibre, whereas flax is manmade. Salvation is to be purely from the Lamb of God and not from the works of man. The typology is very clear – God hates the mixture.

Although, as has been stated above, man cannot attain salvation by works, God does reward believers for work done on the behalf of the Lord Jesus. Paul warns that our works will be tested by fire, and those who have strived to serve the Lord will be blessed with rewards. But of him who has not served or has backslidden, Paul says their works will be burned up and they will suffer loss; but “he himself will be saved, but only as one escaping through the flames” (1 Cor. 3:14-15). There are many verses in scripture that confirm the believer receives rewards for works done in the service of the Lord while on earth. If it is possible to lose one’s salvation, a question must then be asked as to what happens to all the rewards that the person earned on earth; are they delivered to them whilst they are in torment in the lake of fire?

Believers are children of God

The apostle Paul, in Romans 8:15, gives one of the most wonderful revelations in scripture – that we, on the accepting of the Lord Jesus as Lord and Saviour, become the sons and daughters of the living God:

“For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of son ship (adoption). And by Him we cry, ‘Abba, Father”.

The Gospel of John confirms this stating:

“All who receive [Jesus], to those who believed in His name, He gave the right to become children of God” (John 1:12).

The sonship of believers is further confirmed by Paul again in his epistle to the Galatians:

“for in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith,” (Galatians 3:26).

Paul is stressing the freedom we have under the New Covenant, believers are no longer slaves under the law, but are “sons” with rights of inheritance. The Greek word Paul uses for “sons” is huioi, which is a legal term used in the adoption and inheritance laws used in the Roman Empire during the first century. All three of these Scriptures describe a covenant agreement, where those who receive Jesus as their Lord and Saviour become Children of God. You cannot divorce a child. Once you become a child of God you cannot lose that status, as God does not break His covenant agreements. John Walvoord explains the unbreakable covenant relationship of salvation by writing, “because (salvation) is a work of God, it cannot be overturned, annulled, or changed. Salvation by its nature is a new birth, a new creation, and a new spiritual resurrection. In the nature of these aspects of salvation, salvation becomes a work that cannot be changed by humans; and humans, once saved are rendered secure forever by the grace of God” (1).

(1) Walvoord, John F. Major Bible Prophecies. Harper Paperbacks,1991

God the Father corrects His children

Both Psalm 89:30-35 and Hebrew 12:5-6 give a detailed clarification that God will bring measures to bear to correct wayward believers, but that He will not break His covenant with them. When people accept Jesus as their Saviour, they become the Children of God – and God will correct and discipline them, but He will not disown them. The apostle Paul emphasises the importance of understanding that God corrects His children’s wayward behaviour, when He said “when we are judged by the Lord, we are being disciplined so that we will not be condemned with the world” (1 Cor. 11:32). The apostle Peter also warns in 1 Peter 4:17 that judgement begins with the house of God. Believers are judged for their actions here and now. There is no judgement for sin in heaven for those saved by grace.

God’s Love

God’s Love is so great that nothing is able to come between His love for us, not “trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword” (Rom. 8:35). Paul goes on to say that he is convinced “that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Rom. 8:39).  Nothing is able to separate the believer from the awesome love of God; no circumstance however horrible will be able to separate a believer from the love of God. This is what makes us more than conquerors in Christ Jesus!

God is long suffering

A powerful confirmation that God will not disown His Children is given in Isaiah 42:3 and Matt. 12:20, “a bruised reed He would not break, and a smouldering wick He would not snuff out”. A bruised reed was cast aside by builders as being of no use for their work in thatching roofs, and a candle low on oil (Holy Spirit) would give off a black smoke instead of light, so it would be snuffed out. God promises that he will not cast aside those weak in faith. This is also confirmed in John 6:37 when Jesus sates that “all that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never drive away.”

Delivered

Believers are delivered once and for all time from eternal punishment by the sacrificial work of Jesus. Deliverance sets the believer free from the final consequences of sin, which is the divine wrath of God (Gal. 1:4). All aspects of deliverance are only available to the individual through the work of Jesus on the cross; He was delivered into the hands of the religious Jews for judgment, even though He was innocent (Rom. 4:25). He received our judgment so as to deliver us from the wrath of God. A person cannot be said to be delivered if at some stage in the future, because of backsliding, they once more come under the wrath of God and are condemned to eternity in hell.

Eternal Life

Of the 21 New Testament scriptures that promise those that accept Jesus as their Lord and Saviour, they will receive eternal life, not one of them warns that their salvation can be lost for any reason, (Matt. 19:29; Mark 10:29-30; Luke 18:29-30; John 3:16, 3:36, 5:24, 6:39, 6:40, 17:2-3; Acts 13:47-48; Rom. 5:20-21, 6:23; Cor. 5:1; Gal. 6:8; 1Tim. 1:16, 6:12; Tit. 1:2, 3:5-7; 1 John 2:24-25, 5:11-13; Jude 1:21).

In John 5:24 Jesus says that a person “has crossed over from death to life” on accepting Him as their Saviour. It is not possible then, that that person could lose his salvation; this would mean that Jesus lied. 

Chosen by God

The Bible also indicates that believers are chosen by God: “In him we were also chosen, having been predestined according to the plan of him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will, in order that we, who were the first to hope in Christ, might be for the praise of his glory. And you also were included in Christ when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation. Having believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit” (Eph. 1:11-13). This scripture is not referring to Calvin’s predestination. The Greek hermeneutical interpretation of scripture looks for an explanation as to which choice is the correct one: Does God choose us, or do we choose Him? The Greek understanding would be that it must be the one or the other (either, or). Calvin, in using this method of interpreting scripture, chose the logical explanation for him – it must be God who does the choosing. But scripture must be interpreted through the Hebraic method of hermeneutics, which would include both possibilities as being true (both, and). God in His foreknowledge knew we would choose Him and so He chose us. It is therefore totally illogical to believe that a person can be chosen by God for salvation, only for that person to later lose their salvation through backsliding. The unacceptable implication of this is that God is not all-knowing, and cannot determine who will remain faithful to Him. 

The blood of Jesus

The Bible indicates that the blood of Jesus cleanses us from all sin, past present and future at the moment of justification (Matt. 26:28; Rom. 3:25; 5:9; Rev. 1:5). This means that no sin that is committed by a believer can result in condemnation or loss of salvation.

Just as Jacob was able to appear in the presence of his father Isaac in the guise of the first-born son, so too the believer is clothed in the cloak of righteousness of the first-born son, Jesus. Isaac was blind and perceived the presence of his first-born son from touch and scent. Isaac smelled the smell of the fields from Esau’s cloak that Jacob was wearing as part of his disguise; the scent of Esau was confirmation to Isaac that his first-born son was in his presence, so he proceeded to bless Jacob, saying, “the smell of my son is like the smell of the field that the Lord has blessed” (Gen. 27:27). Jacob at that moment was a sinful deceiver seeking selfish gain, but received the covenant promise from his father because he was wearing the cloak of the first born, his brother Esau. There is a strong typology here to the repentant believer, who is unworthy, but still receives the blessing of the first-born Son. This is because they come before the Father robed in the garment of righteousness, provided by the blood of Jesus. When we accept Jesus as our Lord and Saviour, we take on the cloak of righteousness of the first-born son. The Lord becomes blind to our sin (justification not sanctification) and identifies us with Jesus because “we are to God the aroma of Christ” (2 Cor. 2:15). The Lord, our Father, smells the fragrance of Jesus upon us and we receive the blessing of the covenant of salvation.

None lost

In the Gospel of John, chapter 21, there is the story of the disciples pulling a net filled with fish on to the shores of the Sea of Galilee after the resurrection of Jesus. Once ashore, Peter climbs in the boat and drags the net ashore: “It was full of large fish, 153, but even with so many the net was not torn” (John 21:11). Note the special symbolism: the net is full, and yet it does not break, none of the fish are lost. Also note the very unusual inclusion of the number of fish, 153. What possible significance does this have for the story? In Bible numerics, 17 is the number that represents the spiritual order of the Church and nine is finality: 17 x 9 = 153, the Church brought through to the end, with none lost. Also, 153 is the sum total of all the numbers from 1 to 17, so 153 represents the complete Church. All are saved.

None driven away

In John 6:37 Jesus reaffirms His commitment to those who accept Him as Lord and Saviour by saying “all that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never drive away.” No one is able to erase the name of a believer from the Lamb’s book of life (Luke 10:20; Phil. 4:3; Rev. 20:15; 21:27).

Sins unto death

A final consideration is the scripture that refers to sins unto death in 1 John 5:16-17. Evidence of the veracity of this scripture can be seen in the deaths of Ananias and Sapphira in Acts 5:1-10, and also in the warning Paul gives to Christians who take communion unworthily in 1 Corinthians 11:30.  The “sin unto death” is deliberate, wilful, continuous, unrepentant sin. God, in His grace, allows His children to sin without immediately punishing them. However, there comes a point when God will no longer allow a believer to continue in unrepentant sin. When this point is reached, God sometimes decides to punish a Christian, even to the point of taking his or her life. If salvation is not eternal and can be removed by God for backsliding there would be no need to take a person’s life for sins committed, they would simply lose their salvation. The fact that there are sins unto death is a warning to the believer to take their salvation seriously, and not to carelessly enter into continuous unrepentant sin, or the Lord will say “enough!” and take you home.

A direct example of a believer retaining their salvation despite falling into sin is given by Paul in 1 Corinthians 5:1 and 5:

“It is actually reported that there is sexual immorality among you, and of a kind that does not occur even among pagans: A man has his father’s wife… hand this man over to Satan, so that the sinful nature may be destroyed and his spirit saved on the day of the Lord”.

Here Paul clearly indicates that the man was in rebellion to God, committing incest with his stepmother, yet Paul was still confident that he would attain salvation and his spirit would be saved. This example by Paul clearly shows that a true believer cannot lose his salvation through sin.

Those that reject eternal salvation directly attack the Godhead. The implications are extreme and should be abhorrent to any Christian. The implications are:  

God the Father:
  • He breaks His covenant (Heb. 10:17-18; Gal. 3:29).
  • He is not all powerful (Jeremiah 32:17).
  • He is not all knowing, mistakenly choosing those who will later fall (Eph. 1:11-13).
  • His Love has limits, degrees and can be altered (Rom. 8:39).
  • Those He once called to be heirs He can disinherit (Tit. 3:6-7).
  • He annuls adoptions (Rom. 8:15).
  • He confiscates the gift of salvation (Rom. 6:23).
  • His mercy is withdrawn (Isaiah 42:3, Matt. 12:20).
  • He is not able to deliver His people (Gal. 1:4).
  • Satan is able to snatch believers out of His hand (John 10:27-29).
God the Son:     
  • He is a poor intercessor (1 John 2:1).
  • He lied (John 5:24, 6:37).
  • He is a poor Shepherd (John 10:11; 10:14).
  • The blood of Jesus does not cleanse us of all sin – justification (Matt. 26:28; Rom. 3:25; 5:9; Rev. 1:5).
  • He mutilates His own body (1 Cor. 12:27).
  • He drives away those that the father has given Him (John 6:37).
  • He removes our robes of righteousness (2 Cor. 5:21).
  • He did not do a complete work, effort from man is required (Eph. 2:8-9).
God the Holy Spirit:       
  • He breaks the covenant seal of ownership and protection (Eph. 1:13; 4:30-31).
  • He cuts short eternal life, severing the link between man and God (John 3:16).
  • He Is unable to sanctify the believer (2 Thess. 2:13).
  • He effectively kills the spirit that once was alive (Eph. 2:5).
The individual:
  • Must earn his salvation, a doctrine of works. The main distinction Christianity has that separates it from other religions is taken away. All mankind has to work for salvation.

Teaching of loss of salvation brings about a pharasacial spirit, which is contrary to love and unity as there is a continual pressure of the individual to come to a higher standard of righteousness.

Heresies – The work of Christ centres on the cross. It is not surprising, therefore, that heresies concerning the work of Christ centre on atonement and Old Covenant loss of salvation, compared to the New Covenant, salvation by Grace alone.  

To reject a pre-Tribulation rapture on the basis that weak believers will backslide and lose their salvation is, firstly, not scriptural and, secondly, does not take into consideration the effect of speaking to non-believers about the rapture can have on their salvation during the Tribulation period. Many, many people will come to salvation after the rapture when loved ones, friends, work colleagues etcetera are suddenly missing and they remember the warning they were given regarding the rapture. Those who hold to this erroneous belief that a believer can lose salvation will be held accountable for it on the day of judgement of works (2 Cor. 5:10), as their motivation to serve the Lord is based on duty, and the praises of men.

2. The Responsibility of the Church is to Endure the Tribulation

The belief then that the Church must endure the Tribulation is an emotional one, contending that as the Church has known persecution and tribulation throughout its history, with persecution continuing even today, it is totally unfair to consider that the Church will escape the hardships of the Tribulation. Some pre-Millennium Christians hold to the belief that it is the responsibility of the Church to stay to the very end, doing the work of the Lord as that is what the Lord would require of the Church for such a difficult time in the history of the world. Some even believe that the main duty of the Church will be to be a support and a witness to the Jews, much like Corrie ten Boom was to the Jews during the Nazi persecution in the Netherlands during the Second World War. To believe that the Church escapes the hardship of the Tribulation period becomes reprehensible to them. So much so that they become extremely derogatory towards those who believe in a pre-Tribulation rapture. They describe them as Christians who want to be on clouds in heaven playing harps, rather than bravely facing the trials of the Tribulation period. This is a vast distortion of the pre-Tribulation rapture belief. Arguments on these issues must be based on scripture and not emotion. One cannot judge an individual’s commitment to the Lord based on an eschatological belief. Many Christians who believe in a pre-Tribulation rapture have given up all to fulfil the command of Matthew 28:16-20 and have gone to “all nations” preaching the gospel. The fuel that has driven the move to reach the unreached peoples of the world has been the belief that the return of the Lord will only occur after all nations have received the Gospel. In the debate over when the rapture occurs, we must look at the Scriptures for evidence and not rely on emotion to prove a point. Accusing someone of being a coward because of their beliefs is a schoolyard tactic, and juvenile arguments cannot be accepted in scriptural debate.

In the next five presentations (Parts 4 to 8) in this series on the rapture, I have recorded the weight of scriptural evidence that points to a pre-Tribulation rapture.

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