- Pastor Steve Conley
How does Pretribulationism Measure up Against the 12 Fundamental Eschatological Truths
Concerning the 12 Fundamental Eschatological Truths, only those who will not see, are blind to these truths after the examination of the associated texts.
Let's look at how the tenants of the Pre-Trib eschatological model measure up to these truths. Note: there are a thousand flavors of pretribulationism, so, if one or two of these are not describing your flavor, know that it doesn't apply to you but to those that believe such.
1) The day of the rescue (rapture) of the Church will be the day God's wrath unexpectedly begins to fall upon the unbelieving, Christ-rejecting, world.
Luk 17:26 And as it was in the days of Noe, so shall it be also in the days of the Son of man. Luk 17:27 They did eat, they drank, they married wives, they were given in marriage, until the day that Noe entered into the ark, and the flood came, and destroyed them all. Luk 17:28 Likewise also as it was in the days of Lot; they did eat, they drank, they bought, they sold, they planted, they builded; Luk 17:29 But the same day that Lot went out of Sodom it rained fire and brimstone from heaven, and destroyed them all. Luk 17:30 Even thus shall it be in the day when the Son of man is revealed.
The typical pretribulationist believes that the day of the Lord (period of God's wrath) begins after the rapture (not necessarily on the same day), but that Christ's revelation (when He is revealed, verse 30) is described in Rev 19 and it happens at the end of the week. Pretribulationists believe the day of the Lord begins roughly seven years before Christ's revelation. This is completely contrary to the statement of Christ as recorded in Luke 17:26-30.
Pretrib false tenant #1) The day of the Lord begins roughly seven years before Christ's revelation.
2) The day the church rests from persecution is the day of Christ's revelation in the clouds with the mighty angels initiating vengeance upon those who were our persecutors.
2Th 1:6 Seeing it is a righteous thing with God to recompense tribulation to them that trouble you; 2Th 1:7 And to you who are troubled rest with us, when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with his mighty angels, 2Th 1:8 In flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ: 2Th 1:9 Who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power; 2Th 1:10 When he shall come to be glorified in his saints, and to be admired in all them that believe (because our testimony among you was believed) in that day.
Pretribulationists believe that Christ's words to the Thessalonian Church really refer to the group they call the tribulation saints. This is true because they teach that Christ's revelation, as described in 2 Thes 1:7, doesn't happen until the end of the week when Christ is seen finishing off the Beast and His armies, as recorded in Revelation 19. So, according to their thinking, the tribulation saints do not rest from persecution until the end of the week. This also reveals that pretribulationists believe that God actually pours out His wrath upon His own faithful saints causing their deaths. They teach that the Beast is the instrument of God's wrath when he is putting the saints to death. How awful and messed up one must be to think such a thing about the one true God and our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ who gave himself for us, to save us, and then pours out His wrath upon those He has saved. What a sick view of God those who think this way have.
Pre-trib false tenant #2) It is another group of believers other than the church which will rest from persecution at the end of the week when Christ is revealed.
Even though it isn't heralded from the rooftops the following is an essential belief of those who hold the pre-trib model for the rapture. It is essential because it is the obvious implication of thinking that the day of the Lord, that is, the period of God's wrath, begins when the week begins. This makes all the persecution described in that week God's doing. They even believe that because Jesus opens the seals, He is the one responsible for what comes upon the saints at the opening of the 4th and fifth seals.
Pre-trib false tenant #3) God pours out His wrath upon His own in the form of the atrocities of the Beast and the False Prophet and their followers.
3) The church is not appointed unto God's wrath in the day of the Lord.
1Th 5:2 For yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so cometh as a thief in the night. 1Th 5:3 For when they shall say, Peace and safety; then sudden destruction cometh upon them, as travail upon a woman with child; and they shall not escape. 1Th 5:4 But ye, brethren, are not in darkness, that that day should overtake you as a thief. 1Th 5:5 Ye are all the children of light, and the children of the day: we are not of the night, nor of darkness. 1Th 5:6 Therefore let us not sleep, as do others; but let us watch and be sober. 1Th 5:7 For they that sleep sleep in the night; and they that be drunken are drunken in the night. 1Th 5:8 But let us, who are of the day, be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love; and for an helmet, the hope of salvation. 1Th 5:9 For God hath not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ,
Pretribulationists, most of whom live in areas of the world where little to no persecution is experienced, believe and teach that they will not experience any of the unprecedented persecution of the great tribulation. This they believe is supported by Paul's comforting words to the Thessalonians: "for God hath not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ". Many of them recognize the true context of Paul's statement to be the day of the Lord as mentioned in verse 2 of 1Thes 5. However, most of them believe that the period of unprecedented persecution, that Jesus called great tribulation, takes place within the day of the Lord as opposed to prior to it.
Pre-trib false tenant #4) The church is promised to be spared all the events of the seventieth week, especially the unprecedented persecution of the great tribulation.
4) The watching believer will not be caught by surprise upon the day of the Lord.
1Th 5:4 But ye, brethren, are not in darkness, that that day should overtake you as a thief. 1Th 5:5 Ye are all the children of light, and the children of the day: we are not of the night, nor of darkness.
In spite of this explicit statement, the pretribulational model is built upon the false teaching of an "any moment" rapture. They teach that Jesus will come to rapture His church unexpectedly as a thief comes. They teach that the apostles taught that Jesus could come at any moment to gather His own to Himself. The nature of the teaching of imminency is to be caught by surprise. When one has no idea when it will take place it is true that when it happens it will be sudden or come unawares. Therefore, they make Paul's words to watching believers to be a lie, because he said the day will not come upon us as a thief, for we are not in darkness and will not be caught suddenly or unawares at Christ's arrival on the day of the Lord. Paul said the day will not overtake us as a thief. There is no ambiguity in that statement. If we are told to watch for Christ’s coming for us there must be something to watch for. With the idea of a signless rapture, a sudden snatching away, there is nothing to watch for.
Pre-trib false tenant #5) Jesus comes as a thief to catch away His church.
5) The coming (parousia) of our Lord Jesus Christ begins and is equivalent to the period of time known as the day of the Lord or the day of Christ.
2Th 2:1 Now we beseech you, brethren, by the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and by our gathering together unto him, 2Th 2:2 That ye be not soon shaken in mind, or be troubled, neither by spirit, nor by word, nor by letter as from us, as that the day of Christ is at hand.
In order to maintain a semblance of plausibility for their model, pretribbers must read a separation into many texts, just like they do into this one. They say the events Paul references in verse 1 are separated by 7 years. However, on many occasions, Paul or others connect the coming (parousia) of Christ with the catching up of the saints. In this text, Paul identifies the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our gathering together unto Him as the day of Christ. He tells the Thessalonians that that day, the day in which those events of verse 1 take place, is not at hand, that is not near in time. Jesus taught that His coming would be near in time when the great tribulation was taking place. Paul will tell them in verse 3 that Christ's arrival and continuing presence (His Coming) and our gathering to Him cannot come until the great tribulation and the results of it (a falling away) are seen. The great tribulation begins when the man of sin is revealed in the Temple in the middle of the week. Paul teaches that the parousia involves the rapture (1Thes 4:15-17). They are not two separate events separated by 7 years. At Christ's return (His Parousia) the church is raptured. The coming and rapture happen upon the same day, but the coming continues for the duration of Christ’s presence with us (“so shall we ever be with the Lord”). They are not separated by 7 years or any other amount of time.
Pre-trib false tenant # 6) The coming of our Lord Jesus Christ is separated from our gathering together unto Him by seven years.
6) The cosmic sign spoken of by Joel and Peter must come prior to the day of the Lord.
Joe 2:31 The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before the great and the terrible day of the LORD come.
Act 2:20 The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before that great and notable day of the Lord come:
Pre-tribbers have a cow when faced with the explicit statement of Joel concerning when God's wrath on the day of the Lord takes place. Joel says the day of the Lord cannot come until the cosmic sign He describes takes place. No cosmic sign, no wrath of God on the day of the Lord. I have heard so many lame explanations of this, attempts to get around the clear meaning of this text. Some have said that before means in front of or in the face of. However, Peter is quoted using the Greek word "prin" when he quoted Joel in Acts 2:20. "Prin" which is translated before, can only mean before in relation to time or sequence. It means "prior to". When Joel says before the great and terrible day of the Lord come, he means prior to the day coming. Others have said that there are many cosmic signs that take place in the last days, so we cannot be sure which one it is referring to. So, they pay no heed to the significance of this sign and forget that it even exists. Even when Jesus speaks of it in the Olivet discourse as a sign of His coming [Parousia] they pay no attention. They, in essence, say “nothing to see here”. A study of Christ’s apokalupsis (revelation) will reveal that all these cosmic disturbance references refer to that cosmic sign that portends His arrival at His Parousia.
Pre-trib false tenant #7) Pay no attention to the cosmic sign, “there is nothing to see there”.