Gotquestions.org Misunderstands Partial Rapture

Paul from gotquestions.org doesn't understand

Paul at Gotquestions.org tries to explain away partial rapture. The question posed to him was: Question: 127689: Since Matt. 24.40-41 speaking to believers saying some are taken and some are left, and Matt. 24.42, Luke 21.36 and Rev. 3.10 place a condition for first rapture, why do you think many Christians still like to argue between pretrib and posttrib onlyism rather than coming together by agreeing first rapture is according to readiness? (at Rev. 7.9 before the trumpets of the Tribulation).He writes as follows.

Paul: The timing of the rapture in relation to the tribulation is one of the most controversial issues in the church today. The three primary views are pre-tribulational (the rapture occurs before the tribulation), mid-tribulational (the rapture occurs at or near the mid-point of the tribulation), and post-tribulational (the rapture occurs at the end of the tribulation). A fourth view, commonly known as pre-wrath, is a slight modification of the mid-tribulational position.

More accurately, I would say the mid-trib view is more like pretrib onlyism, because it occurs before the 42 months starts, whereas the pre-wrath commences well into the 42 months, after the 5 months of the 1st woe (5th trumpet), 13 months of the 2nd woe (6th trumpet), and at or near the start of the 3rd woe (7th trumpet when the 7 bowls are poured) of 24 months. Therefore, we can say the mid-trib view is more like pretrib onlyism and pre-wrath is more like posttrib onlyism.

Paul: First, it is important to recognize the purpose of the tribulation. According to Daniel 9:27, there is a seventieth “seven” (seven years) that is still yet to come. Daniel’s entire prophecy of the seventy sevens (Daniel 9:20-27) is speaking of the nation of Israel. It is a time period in which God focuses His attention especially on Israel. The seventieth seven, the tribulation, must also be a time when God deals specifically with Israel. While this does not necessarily indicate that the church could not also be present, it does bring into question why the church would need to be on the earth during that time.

It would be strange if the church was not present because, how else are some suppose to be saved without the Holy Spirit present in the Church leading people to Christ and the martyrdom in the Church that occurs. If there will not be the Holy Spirit present, how can the saints ever endure during the Great Tribulation? We know the Church passes through the Tribulation because Christians martyrs from previous generations to "...rest yet for a little season, until their fellowservants also and their brethren, that should be killed as they were, should be fulfilled.... Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord from henceforth Yea, saith the Spirit, that they may rest from their labours; and their works do follow them. ...which had not worshipped the beast, neither his image, neither had received his mark upon their foreheads, or in their hands" (6.11; 14.13; 20.4). The image of the beast takes place during the Tribulation and is also when the mark is forced upon people. So the issue does not become whether the Church passes through the Tribulation but which believers enter into and pass through the Tribulation?

“From henceforth” (14.13) means from the time when the worship of the image of the beast is forced upon men. “Who die in the Lord” - these must be Christians. Here the Spirit is not called by the title the seven Spirits of God but by the name of the (Holy) Spirit, because “the seven Spirits” is a term which is particularly connected with God’s judgment whereas “the Holy Spirit” is the term especially related to the church.

Paul: The primary Scripture passage on the rapture is 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18. It states that all living believers, along with all believers who have died, will meet the Lord Jesus in the air and will be with Him forever. The rapture is God’s removing His people from the earth. A few verses later, in 1 Thessalonians 5:9, Paul says, “For God did not appoint us to suffer wrath but to receive salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ.” The book of Revelation, which deals primarily with the time period of the tribulation, is a prophetic message of how God will pour out His wrath upon the earth during the tribulation. It seems inconsistent for God to promise believers that they will not suffer wrath and then leave them on the earth to suffer through the wrath of the tribulation. The fact that God promises to deliver Christians from wrath shortly after promising to remove His people from the earth seems to link those two events together.

There are problems with this popular theory. Some argue that according to I Thessalonians 4.15, the living “shall in no wise precede them who are fallen asleep” -The dead are resurrected at the seventh trumpet; and so timewise, rapture occurs after the Tribulation. Now if there is a first rapture, it will have to take place before the resurrection of the dead. But since this verse distinctly says “shall in no wise,” how then can rapture take place twice? Let me say in reply that it is most precious and significant to find in both verse 15 and verse 17 the qualifying clauses “we that are alive, that are left” - Now to be alive is obviously to be left on earth; why, then, is there this apparent unnecessary repetition? Because it implies that there are people who though alive yet have already gone ahead (that is, raptured) and therefore are no longer left on earth. Would Paul enlist himself among this class of people who are alive and are left? Not at all. He uses the word “we” only because he is speaking at that moment of writing, and the proof of this is that since Paul no longer lives today, he cannot be numbered among those who are left on earth. Our summary conclusion to all this is that the third school of interpretation seems to be the correct one - that is to say, that one group of believers will be raptured before the Tribulation while another group of believers will go through the Tribulation and be raptured afterwards.

1 Thessalonians 1.10 “The wrath to come” - This is the Great Tribulation. Since the Lord Jesus will deliver us from the wrath to come, we must be raptured before the Great Tribulation. Also, 1 Thessalonians 5.9 “For God appointed us not unto wrath” - Once again this “wrath” has reference to the Great Tribulation. Let me say, though, that such an interpretation of “wrath” here as being the Great Tribulation is incorrect. How do we know that this wrath must necessarily be the wrath in the Great Tribulation? And even if it were granted that it is, such an interpretation of this word “wrath” would still be unreasonable because the Great Tribulation, on the one hand, is God’s punishment and wrath coming upon the unbelievers, and on the other hand is Satan’s attack and wrath descending on the believers. When Satan assaults the believers, the latter enter into the experience of the Great Tribulation but do not come under the wrath of God.

Where does the link occur to remove Christians from the bowls of wrath (last 24 months of the 7-year Trib)? In the generation pre-wrath resurrection and rapture (1 Thess. 4.15-17), not before the Tribulation nor at mid-trib. We can't say wrath commences at the start of the Tribulation because it is not given unto the Antichrist by Satan to hurt people yet just the earth. It is only during the Great Tribulation (last 42 months) would we consider the wrath of God to pour out, specifically in the bowls. Bowls are larger than cups and are poured silently, as if time stands still so much is happening all at once. Note Rev. 9.18 in which 1/3 of the people of earth die occurs during the 2nd and 3rd woe. Even at the time of the first woe: "And to them it was given that they should not kill them, but that they should be tormented five months" (Rev. 9.5).

Just as the seals are divided into four and three (Rev. 8.13), so the trumpets are divided into four and three. The first four trumpets are merely tribulations, but the last three are the trumpets of woes (9.12, 11.14). The plagues of the first four trumpets are not directed against men; they only affect mankind indirectly. The death of the last three trumpets, however, do come directly to men.

Paul: Another crucial passage on the timing of the rapture is Revelation 3:10, in which Christ promises to deliver believers from the “hour of trial” that is going to come upon the earth. This could mean two things. Either Christ will protect believers in the midst of the trials, or He will deliver believers out of the trials. Both are valid meanings of the Greek word translated “from.” However, it is important to recognize what believers are promised to be kept from. It is not just the trial, but the “hour” of trial. Christ is promising to keep believers from the very time period that contains the trials, namely the tribulation. The purpose of the tribulation, the purpose of the rapture, the meaning of 1 Thessalonians 5:9, and the interpretation of Revelation 3:10 all give clear support to the pre-tribulational position. If the Bible is interpreted literally and consistently, the pre-tribulational position is the most biblically-based interpretation.

Recommended Resource: The Rapture: Who Will Face the Tribulation by Tim LaHaye.

I don't recommend this book for you will be deceived. Please think this through. Many will be deceived even the elect if that were possible (Matt. 13.22). "For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall shew great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect" (Matt. 24.24).

The antinomian (all you need is to be saved and you can lie on a bed of fornication without consequence) view of pretrib onlyism is a false fruit not of God and will have far reaching damaging consequences. Millions will be raptured before the Tribulation for keeping the word of His patience (Rev. 3.10), were watchful (Matt. 24.42), prayerful (Luke 21.36), kept themselves blameless (1 Thess. 5.23) and maintained the conduct of Matt. 5-7.

Since God places a condition for first rapture, we must conclude first rapture is according to readiness of a percentage of the Church who are alive before the Trumpets commence. "Because you have kept my word of patient endurance, I will keep you from the hour of trial which is coming on the whole world, to try those who dwell upon the earth." (Rev. 3.10). Do all Christians keep the word of His patience? No. Many Christians are what Paul calls "carnal" Christians and tied down to the world like a balloon unwilling to be untied and let go. "And I, brethren, could not speak unto you as unto spiritual, but as unto carnal, as unto babes in Christ. For ye are yet carnal: for whereas there is among you envying, and strife, and divisions, are ye not carnal, and walk as men? For while one saith, I am of Paul; and another, I am of Apollos; are ye not carnal?" (1 Cor. 3.1,3-4). "Watch ye therefore, and pray always, that ye may be accounted worthy to escape all these things that shall come to pass, and to stand before the Son of man" (Luke 21.36). When do believers begin to stand before the Son of Man? "Before the throne" (Rev. 7.9), again, before the Tribulation commences. Are all believers prayerful? Therefore, this is a condition for the Church for first rapture according to readiness. "Watch therefore: for ye know not what hour your Lord doth come" (Matt. 24.42). Are all believers watchful? In verse 40-41 we read some are "taken" and some are "left" at the first rapture. Both the taken and the left are members of the body of Christ, because from Matt. 24.32 on is talking to the Church specifically about these things. Whereas Matt. 24.4-31 is referring to Israel.

How are believers to escape all these coming things and to stand before the Son of man? Naturally by being raptured. Death is not a blessing: we do not pray and expect death. There are only two ways for God to keep us out: death and rapture. And hence part of the living will be raptured before the Tribulation.  

Jeremiah 30.6-7 “The time of Jacob’s trouble” - The Great Tribulation is only for the Jews, not for the Gentiles or for the church. Since the church is not the Jews, we therefore will not go through the Great Tribulation. See also Daniel 12.1. If there were only these two passages in the entire Bible which speak of the Great Tribulation, then the Great Tribulation would indeed be exclusively for the Jews. But we can read other passages in the Bible, such as Revelation 3 which speaks of “the hour of trial, that hour which is to come upon the whole world, to try them that dwell upon the earth” (v.10). The prophecies of Jeremiah and Daniel were directed toward the Jews, and hence they used such words “Jacob” and “Thy people” quite logically.

What's going to happen when pretrib onlyists enter into the Tribulation period? They will observe millions of overcomer believers raptured beforehand. There are "advanced parties and harbingers in every sphere" (T. Austin Sparks). They will accuse the brethren day and night (Rev. 12.10), for how could they be the Church they claim, for if they were the pretrib onlyist would have been "taken" forgetting that there was a condition for first rapture. Whether they recall this condition or not, the problem remains they will accuse the brethren, and if so, are they born-again to begin with? Do you see the danger of Tim LaHaye? How will they be equipped without the Holy Spirit to even discern the mark of the beast? Now I am not saying all pretrib onlyists are unsaved, but certainly a far greater number than you might expect. The true born-again believer who had not overcometh and was not ready to be received at first rapture will bring these verses back into view to not accuse those "taken" who were ready to be received. And may even still yet be an overcomer through the Tribulation as a martyr in the Church.

There is much comfort in knowing for new believers during the Tribulation, the Church exists and they are members of it even as there is a great judgment upon the world martyring believers and our little brother Israel. The carnal Christians alive at the time who were not raptured at first rapture, many will yet overcometh (read Rev. 2 & 3) during the Tribulation unto rewards to return and reign with Christ (Jude 14,15) over the nations for the marriage feast of the millennial kingdom. There is nothing like entering the time of testing to change from being a carnal to a spiritual Christian and receive the reward for the time of recompense.

Praise the Lord for this discernment!

Troy Brooks

For further evidence on Partial Rapture, read The Rapture Proof, a detailed study of Matthew 24 and my Partial Rapture videos. I recommend: "Come, Lord Jesus" and Aids to Revelation, and King and the Kingdom of Heaven by Watchman Nee (CFP white covers only!)