As a believer do you look around at our current political and cultural climate and wonder when the rapture will occur? If so, do you want facts, or the cosy, politically-correct answer?
I was once a ferocious defender and proponent of the latter, until I decided I wanted to be sure of the facts for myself, and not just go along with what my favourite teachers had said. I tackled head-on those scriptures relevant to the subject which had always niggled me. The result was a book which I published over a year ago*. I’ve shared a large portion of it here on my blog, and finally felt I should also share the introduction, in edited form. Here is part two of the introduction.
TWO VIEWS OF A RAPTURE
Though not by any means a salvation issue or a vital doctrine, any view other than the “pre-tribulation” understanding is now considered in most evangelical circles to be an affront not worth giving any time or consideration to, and the perpetrator will be seen as a trouble-maker. Such was my own attitude towards those who didn’t see things my way, I must confess, for twenty-eight years. In my zeal for the pre-tribulation rapture theory I had no will or desire to consider the possibility that it could be wrong, because the “experts” who I admired said it was so, and any other alternative was just too uncomfortable and threatening. I therefore have an “insider” view of the mindset.
If pre-tribulationists are sure they’re right about the timing of the rapture, there’s no logical reason for them to get so upset with dissenters as some do, and as I once did. If salvation is by faith alone in the sacrifice and the resurrection of Jesus Christ, and it is, then those who are sincerely mistaken about a few debatable doctrines such as this one are still going to be changed “in the twinkling of an eye”, along with all those who have had the right views and the benefit of good teaching. They will be taken to the same heaven to be with the same Jesus as those who have been correct. Proponents of the pre-tribulation rapture claim that those who don’t see things their way “will not be ready”, because they don’t look forward in hope. This is not the teaching of Scripture. The hope which purifies us, said John, is that when we see Jesus we will be like him-not that we will escape all persecution and trials (1 John 3:2-3).
However, if pre-tribulationist teachers and experts are wrong about the rapture occurring before tribulation events, they may be responsible for encouraging vast numbers of Christians to ignore the huge challenges which tribulation events would bring, and for which they should be preparing, spiritually. As I wrote in part one, for most of the world, persecution of Christians is the norm, and if our freedoms continue to be eroded here in the West, it will be the norm here before long too.
The “evidence” used to convince Christians of the pre-tribulation rapture has serious flaws in it. I say that from a background of flawed, faulty thinking in my own life. In the nineteen-eighties I was one of the multitude helped to faith in Jesus Christ by the publications of a certain prophecy “expert”. He became my biggest influence, so that whatever he said, in my eyes, must be true. His books were almost as authoritative to me as the Bible. I would see all of Scripture through his theological lenses. Any verse which didn’t fit what he taught, I ignored or adjusted it to fit.
Consequently, I was so convinced that the rapture would come within days or at the most months, that I made a large booklet for my unbelieving family members who, I was convinced, would be left behind while I was having a good time in heaven. It was titled, in large lettering, “Where I Have Gone”, and it outlined the rapture and what was going to happen to everyone left behind in following years. They would come looking for me, or for signs of my whereabouts, and in the process remember my booklet on the bookshelf which they had sniggered at.
The booklet was there on the bookshelf for a long time. But don’t get me wrong, I’m not questioning the early rapture theory just because it hasn’t happened yet. My reasoning goes much deeper than that. In fact, it delves and dives deeply into the relevant passages of Scripture, rather than skimming over them.
I’m convinced that many Christians today are, like I was, ignoring or distorting those niggling verses which don’t comfortably fit the prevailing theory of an early rapture. And unfortunately, too many fail to “search the Scriptures” for themselves, preferring to just accept what the experts say. And why should they, from their point of view? Who wants to live through even one of the prophesied events or conditions? Who wants to rock the rapture boat heading for heaven without any hint of conflict, stress or challenge?
The pre-tribulation rapture is a very appealing and comfortable idea for those of us in the West who suffer little in the way of persecution, war, famine or pestilence. In contrast, consider just one example of many: the experience of hundreds of thousands of Christians in the Middle-East in recent years. They were chased from their homes and their homelands, tortured and killed in horrible ways-sometimes by beheading-by ISIS, who were rampaging across the land. How was it any better for those Christians who are our brothers and sisters in the faith than it will be for the saints written about in Revelation?
In my own experience I eventually became tired of the unsatisfying nonsense and hype I was hearing from the assumed experts. After many years of believing that the rapture and the tribulation were just around the next calendar corner, I decided to look far more closely, and for myself, at relevant Scriptures. I opened up those Bible verses I’d skipped over and read them properly. I examined scripture, and not the comments of the experts, in its immediate and its greater context. I earnestly searched for the truth rather than stubbornly following what just didn’t match up with all the facts.
A once-famous Christian comedian joked that he was not a pre-tribulation believer, or a mid-tribulation believer, or a post-tribulation believer: he was a “pan”-tribulation believer, because he believed everything would pan out just as God wants it to. I am not a pan-tribulation believer, but I do agree that God has everything under control, and that it will all go according to His plan, and not ours.
Thanks for reading. Questions or comments are welcome. You can get my book on Amazon in paperback or Kindle form:
*ALL LEFT BEHIND: THE CASE AGAINST A PRE-TRIBULATION RAPTURE, by Nicholas Fisher.
Alternatively, just search this code within Amazon: B07K5NX5RB