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  • Pastor Steve Conley

A Refutation of John Walvoord's 50 Reasons for the Pretribulation Rapture Part 2

Below is part 2 of a refutation to John Walvoord's 50 Reasons for the Pretribulation Rapture.

Doctrine of Imminency

24. The pretribulational interpretation teaches that the coming of Christ is actually imminent.

That is a true statement. However, both Jesus and Paul said differently. Jesus said that the great tribulation and all associated with it would come before His coming and the gathering of the elect to Him. Paul, having been taught by Christ, said that the apostasia (a notable departure from the faith) and the revelation of the man of sin (the Beast in the Temple claiming to be God) would take place first. The conclusion of both statements is that Christ’s return will not be possible to occur any day until the church has experienced great tribulation at the Beast’s hand and the falling away, due to deception and persecution, happens. Imminency is a false teaching. The Apostles and Christ taught watchful expectancy.

25. The exhortation to be comforted by the coming of the Lord (1 Thess. 4:18) is very significant in the pretribulational view and is especially contradicted by most posttribulationists.

The comfort of 1Thes 4:18 is that those who have died in Christ will also be gathered unto Jesus (raptured) when Jesus comes.

26. The exhortation to look for "the glorious appearing" of Christ to His own (Titus 2:13) loses its significance if the Tribulation must intervene first. Believers in that case should look for signs.

That is only the case where the church has ceased to be salty enough to be persecuted, like here in the West. Those of our brothers and sisters who are facing death, torture, imprisonment, and all other types of severe persecution are looking for the blessed hope even the glorious appearing of the Great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ. Jesus told us what to look for when he answered His disciples question “what shall be the sign of thy coming” (Matt 24:3). Pretribulationists say they are looking for His coming but in the same breath confess that they think it will come unexpectedly at any moment. They have nothing to watch for. How can you watch, when you have nothing to watch for?

27. The exhortation to purify ourselves in view of the Lord's return has most significance if His coming is imminent (1 John 3:2-3).

It has most significance in that it is a certainty that we (the true church) will all appear before Him at His arrival. We also know that at physical death we will be present with the Lord. Therefore, we could face Christ at any moment even though the rapture will not take place until after the great tribulation.

28. The church is uniformly exhorted to look for the coming of the Lord, while believers in the Tribulation are directed to look for signs.

There is no evidence for such a statement. Again, there is a failure to see the emptiness of the idea of looking without something to look for. The Scriptures teach watchful expectancy not imminence. We are to have a confidence that He will return and are to be looking for the signs associated with such return. Jesus said when these things (cosmic signs) begin to come to pass, look up and lift up your head, for your redemption draweth nigh.

The Work of the Holy Spirit

29. The Holy Spirit as the restrainer of evil cannot be taken out of the world unless the church, which the Spirit indwells, is translated at the same time. The Tribulation cannot begin until this restraint is lifted.

There is no evidence for the Holy Spirit being the restrainer of 2Thes 2. In fact, any competent student of the Scriptures should see the relationship Michael the archangel has to the middle of the week. It is he who casts Satan out of Heaven to the earth in the middle of the week (Rev 12). It is he who stands up and an unprecedented time of trouble begins in the middle of the week (Dan 12:1). It is the middle of the week when great tribulation begins (Matt 24:15, 21; Dan 9:27). It is he who has dealt with Satan before (Jude 9) and will again (Rev 12). He is the best candidate for the present restraining of the mystery of iniquity until it is time for the revelation of the Beast (2Thes 2:3-10).

30. The Holy Spirit as the restrainer must be taken out of the world before "the lawless one," who dominates the tribulation period, can be revealed (2 Thess. 2:6-8).

The Holy Spirit is not the restrainer.

31. If the expression "except there come a falling away first" (KJV) is translated literally, "except the "departure" come first," it would plainly show the necessity of the Rapture taking place before the beginning of the Tribulation.

Again, we see another attempt to read a pre-trib rapture into the text. In all the available documents of Koine Greek literature there is not a single use of apostasia as departure in the physical sense. All 355 occurrences refer to a religious or political departure, hence, a falling away from the faith. It isn’t until the fifth century AD that there is a single use of the word in a spatial sense. This is another desperate wresting of the Scriptures by the pretribulationists.

Necessity of an Interval Between the Rapture and the Second Coming

32. According to 2 Corinthians 5:10, all believers of this age must appear before the judgment seat of Christ in heaven, an event never mentioned in the detailed accounts connected with the second coming of Christ to the earth.

So. While the earth dwellers are on the receiving end of the salvos of God’s wrath, the church will be with Christ in heaven, during which time we will be judged for reward at the bema seat.

33. If the twenty-four elders of Revelation 4:1-5:14 are representative of the church as many expositors believe, it would necessitate the rapture and reward of the church before the Tribulation.

That the 24 elders are representative of the church is only a supposition. There is no proof that they are, that is why you say “if”. We don’t use implications or assumptions in opposition to the explicit statements of Scripture. The Scriptures let us know that Christ’s arrival upon the day of the Lord (Christ) takes place after the sixth seal is opened. It is upon the day of His arrival that the church is raptured. The 24 elders are seen before the throne before the seals begin to be opened. They are in heaven before the resurrection and rapture of the church.

34. The coming of Christ for His bride must take place before the Second Coming to the earth for the wedding feast (Rev. 19:7-10).

What’s wrong with this statement is that the second coming starts with Christ’s arrival, at which point He resurrects and raptures His own. The wedding feast takes place later.

35. Tribulation saints are not translated at the second coming of Christ but carry on ordinary occupations such as farming and building houses, and they will bear children (Isa. 65:20-25). This would be impossible if the translation had taken place at the Second Coming to the earth, as posttribulationists teach.

The last generation of the church, which will experience the great tribulation most certainly will be gathered by the angels unto Jesus in the clouds along with the resurrected saints. This isn’t the saints of the great tribulation for they are taken in the rapture. These are those who remain of the nations that went up against Jerusalem (Zech 14:16).

36. The judgment of the Gentiles following the Second Coming (Matt. 25:31-46) indicates that both saved and unsaved are still in their natural bodies. This would be impossible if the translation had taken place at the Second Coming.

These are those left of the nations that went up against Jerusalem. They shall be judged according to how they treated Israel and the elect.

37. If the translation took place in connection with the Second Coming to the earth, there would be no need of separating the sheep from the goats at a subsequent judgment, but the separation would have taken place in the very act of the translation of the believers before Christ actually sets up His throne on earth (Matt. 25:31).

That is almost entirely true. What is misunderstood is that the second coming is a comprehensive whole that includes His arrival (revelation, resurrection, and rapture) and continuing presence. Christ doesn’t come down to the earth at His arrival it is only after the trumpet and vial judgements that He comes down to earth.

38. The judgment of Israel (Ezek. 20:34-38), which occurs subsequent to the Second Coming, indicates the necessity of regathering Israel. The separation of the saved from the unsaved in this judgment obviously takes place sometime after the Second Coming and would be unnecessary if the saved had previously been separated from the unsaved by translation.

Israel is still in unbelief and blind until Christ’s return to gather His own which follows the fulness of the gentiles being come in (Rom 11:25).

Contrast Between the Rapture and the Second Coming

39. At the time of the Rapture the saints meet Christ in the air, while at the Second Coming Christ returns to the Mount of Olives to meet the saints on earth.

There is only one future coming (parousia) of Christ and it is His second coming. It is a comprehensive whole that involves His arrival and continuing presence. It takes place after the cosmic sign of Joel 2:31 appears. The cosmic sign follows the great tribulation (Matt 24:29) and portends Christ’s glorious arrival in the clouds, with the holy angels (Matt 24:30). This is His glorious appearance or revelation in which every eye shall see Him (Rev 1:7). It is at this time that the dead in Christ are raised and the surviving believers are changed (Dan 12:1-2; 1Cor 15:51-52; Rev 20:4-6). This is followed by the catching up (rapture) of the elect (the church) by the angels (Matt 24:31) to be with Jesus in the clouds. Jesus then escorts us to the Fathers house to stand before the throne (John 14:3; Rev 7:9-17). He also seals the 144,000 Jewish men for protection from His wrath which will be poured out in the form of the trumpet and vial judgements (Rev 7:1-8). It is then after the opening of the seventh seal and the blowing of the first trumpet that His vengeance falls upon the Beast worshiping earth dwellers.

40. At the time of the Rapture the Mount of Olives is unchanged, while at the Second Coming it divides and a valley is formed to the east of Jerusalem (Zech. 14:4-5).

It is true that the Mt. of Olives is unchanged at the time of the rapture. However, the rapture takes place upon the day of Christ’s arrival at His second coming. The dividing of the mountain takes place later into the coming or as it may also be called, the day of the Lord.

41. At the Rapture living saints are translated, while no saints are translated in connection with the second coming of Christ to the earth.

You are correct that there is no mention of any saints being translated when Christ comes down to the earth later into His coming (parousia). Again, pretribulationists believe that there are two future comings (parousias) one for the saints and one with the saints. However, there is only one parousia (arrival and continuing presence) and it encompasses all of Christ’s activities in that eschatological period.

42. At the Rapture the saints go to heaven, while at the Second Coming to the earth the saints remain in the earth without translation.

Again, pretribulationists believe that there are two future comings (parousias), one for the saints and one with the saints, however, there is only one parousia (arrival and continuing presence) and it encompasses all of Christ’s activities in that eschatological period.

43. At the time of the Rapture the world is unjudged and continues in sin, while at the Second Coming the world is judged and righteousness is established on the earth.

The rapture takes place on the day of Christ’s coming. Christ’s Rev 19 activities take place not at His arrival but later, at the end of the week.

44. The translation of the church is pictured as a deliverance before the day of wrath, while the Second Coming is followed by the deliverance of those who have believed in Christ during the Tribulation.

Yes, the rapture is a deliverance of the church before the wrath of God falls upon the wicked, however, that is when the second coming starts. The unprecedented persecution of the church and Israel that Jesus called great tribulation comes before Christ’s return and therefore before the rapture.

45. The Rapture is described as imminent, while the Second Coming is preceded by definite signs.

There is not even a single statement that says the catching up is imminent.

46. The translation of living believers is a truth revealed only in the New Testament, while the Second Coming with its attendant events is a prominent doctrine of both Testaments.

Daniel 12:1 speaks of such a deliverance at the time of the unprecedented persecution (trouble).

47. The Rapture concerns only the saved, while the Second Coming deals with both saved and unsaved.

Yes. The rapture happens on the day of Christ’s arrival.

48. At the Rapture Satan is not bound, while at the Second Coming Satan is bound and cast into the abyss.

Satan is bound at the end of the week the parousia (second coming) begins earlier in the second half of the week.

49. No unfulfilled prophecy stands between the church and the Rapture, while many signs must be fulfilled before the Second Coming.

Not true. Paul clearly states that before the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our gathering together unto Him (the day of Christ) can take place there must first be the apostasia and the revelation of the Beast.

50. No passage dealing with the resurrection of saints at the Second Coming ever mentions translation of living saints at the same time.

Not true. Notice that 1Thes 4:15-17 mentions the parousia (coming). The passage also refers to the resurrection and the rapture.

From: "50 Reasons for the Pretribulation Rapture"

By: Dr. John F. Walvoord

Rebuttal by Pastor Steve Conley

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