by Paul Benson
One of the most discussed and hotly debated matters among the Christian believers of this day is the question of the timing of the catching away of the Church to meet the Lord Jesus. Will the Church be here on Earth during what Jesus himself referred to as ‘great tribulation’, or be carried away first so as to escape the trials and tribulations of those final few years of this age?
The focus of discussion by those looking for this ‘escape’ normally centers around their belief that the events of that day are the Wrath of God (discussed and refuted HERE), and therefor believers have a promise of exemption per Revelation 3:10 (also discussed and refuted HERE). But one major matter which I feel does not get the discussion it deserves is that those promoting the concept of a pre-trib rapture are declaring the Body of Christ will NEVER face the persecution of Antichrist’s ‘war on the Saints’. Nor the hardships and possibly life-forfeiting stand one must endure to avoid the damnation of the Mark of the Beast.
A repeated truism found throughout the pages of the Bible is that in the mouth of two or three witnesses shall every word be established. In our search for truth, to base our beliefs and teachings upon, an assembly of true and faithful witnesses should always be given greater regard than the mere theories and speculations of man. Let’s take a serious look a just what witness we actually do have as to whether or not the Church of Jesus Christ will face Antichrist and the Mark of the Beast.
An Overwhelming Witness The Church WILL Face Antichrist!
The Witness of the Word
Now we beseech you, brethren, by the coming (Greek -Parousia) of our Lord Jesus Christ, and by our gathering together unto him, 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. 3 Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition; 4 Who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, shewing himself that he is God. 2Thessalonians 2:1-4
This is one of the most mistreated passages in the entire Bible in our day. It is under a constant attack, for the truth it presents is contrary to the deceptive teachings many are promoting about a pre-tribulation ‘rapture’ of the Church. But, although great lengths are gone to in order to ignore, obfuscate, or alter this passage, in the end it clearly says what it clearly says! The coming / Parousia of our Lord and our gathering together unto him will NOT occur until after the appearance of the Antichrist. A second witness to this truth is given in verse 8 of the same chapter.
And then shall that Wicked be revealed, whom the Lord shall consume with the spirit of his mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness of his coming (Greek – Parousia): 2Thessalonians 2:8
This verse clearly ties the coming / Parousia of Christ and our gathering together unto him with the destruction of the Antichrist at the end of his reign of terror. This could not be so if that event was a pre-trib event as the Antichrist is destroyed at the return of Christ immediately after the tribulation (Matt.24:29). Here is one more witness that ties this together.
For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead. 22 For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive. 23 But every man in his own order: Christ the firstfruits; afterward they that are Christ’s at his coming (Greek -Parousia). 24 Then cometh the end,… 1Corinthians 15:21-24
The resurrection of ALL those who are the redeemed of Christ takes place at ONE time: His coming / Parousia. All believers including those alive at his return as well as those who have died down through the ages (Old Testament as well as New Testament believers) will be changed to glorified bodies and caught up to meet Jesus in one glorious event. This is the Resurrection at the Last Day also referred to in the Bible as the Resurrection of the Just.
Please notice the Greek word ‘Parousia’ is the underlying Greek word for ‘coming’ in all of these quoted passages. We see three things clearly associated with this word that all transpire at this ‘coming’:
- First. The resurrection of all who belong to Christ. Those who have called out to God for his salvation from all ages
- Second. The gathering together unto Christ at his coming of all those believers he gave his life on that Cross to redeem.
- Thirdly. The destruction of the man of sin who we know to be the Antichrist who seizes control of the planet for three and one half years at the very end of this age.
These events ALL transpire at ONE TIME. To try and chop up this clear Biblical truth into a series of events which take place at various times is to disregard the true teaching of the Scriptures and promote error in its stead. Believing what is plainly and clearly stated in the Bible is the standard we should apply to base our beliefs upon; but sadly many cast aside that safeguard and follow instead the theories of man.
That is why we have so many people believing so many different things about the end-time scenario. The Bible is not teaching different things to different people. Some are following the truth presented in the Scriptures, and others are following the wayward teachings of man.
But the witness of God’s Word clearly declares to us that BEFORE the coming of Christ will come the appearance of the Antichrist / Man of Sin.
FOOD 4 THOUGHT: Here is an additional witness from God’s Word which speaks loudly to me. A main theme of the book ‘The Song of Solomon’ is the return of Christ for his Church. If you read chapter two carefully the return of Jesus for his people is portrayed as a Spring-time event! Notice how it states that winter is over and past, and the ‘time of flowers appearing and of the singing of birds is come’. It is the beginning of the millennial reign of Christ!
If this event was to precede the final period of darkness to be faced by mankind it would be worded differently. Notice he does NOT say, “Rise up my love! Winter is coming and I better get you out of here before the hardships of that season!” In line with rest of the Scriptures which describe the Church enduring a final season of darkness and persecution before Jesus returns, Song portrays the Bride as just coming out of the darkness of a ‘winter season’ when she rises up to meet her Beloved’! This is just one of many places the pre-trib rapture theory is out of sync with what is presented in the Word of God.)
The Witness of the Fathers
We have the writings of thousands of authors and commentators to compare stretching clear back to the early believers of Christ. If the Pre-trib rapture doctrine were true, and the apostles and their disciples believed and taught it, the record of that fact would be clearly evident in the writings of the early Church Fathers, as well as those down through the centuries. This is absolutely NOT the case!
Although many claim to have solid evidence the pre-trib rapture doctrine has been a part of the beliefs of the Church since its inception, they are basing this claim upon a mere handful of ‘quotes’ from antiquity, easily half of which could just as well be a reference to escaping God’s fury in a post-trib catching away before that wrath is poured out at the return of Christ. They are grasping at straws and reading their doctrine into any place they can stuff it.
But is this really the witness we receive from the quotes by the early fathers?
The question we should be posing here is this: If this was ‘Bible truth’, and the belief of the Body of Christ down through the ages just how evident would that doctrine be in the extant writings of those folks? The only reasonable answer is that it would surely be a large part of those writings considering the significance of that doctrine. It would not be just a smattering of quotes; but a remarkably evident theme of doctrine addressed in an overwhelming manner in their writings!
There should be a multitude of quotes to draw from that show whether or not the Church was expecting to encounter Antichrist. And there are! And these quotes clearly show they were! Here are just a few:
Barnabas (40-100): “The final stumbling-block (or source of danger) approaches…for the whole [past] time of your faith will profit you nothing, unless now in this wicked time WE also withstand coming sources of danger….That the Black One [Antichrist] may find no means of entrance…” (Epistle of Barnabas, 4).
Hermas (40-140): “Those, therefore, who continue steadfast, and are put through the fire [of the Great Tribulation that is yet to come], will be purified by means of it….Wherefore cease not speaking these things into the ears OF THE SAINTS…” (The Pastor of Hermas, Vision 4).
Jerome (340-420): “I told you that Christ would not come unless Antichrist had come BEFORE” (Epistle 21).
Justin Martyr (100-168): “The man of apostasy [Antichrist], who speaks strange things against the Most High, shall venture to do unlawful deeds on the earth against US THE CHRISTIANS…” (Dialogue With Trypho, 110).
Tertullian (150-220): “The souls of the martyrs are taught to wait [Rev. 6]…that the beast Antichrist with his false prophet may wage war on the CHURCH of God…” (On the Resurrection of the Flesh, 25).
Would you like to see more? For scores of similar quotes showing the Church has always expected to face Antichrist please see THIS PAGE.
The Witness of History
For as long as God has had a people on this earth there has been a Satanic opposition to those people. And we have a vast historical record of that persecution that continues to this very day with the terrible things Christians are suffering in the Arab nations (and elsewhere). The Church has long suffered under the spirit of Antichrist. This fact is undeniable. And God has always met this persecution with a supply of grace to endure.
Where Is The Witness The Church Will NOT Face Antichrist?
The Witness Of The Word?
Where is it? There is not one Scripture that expressly states the Church will NOT face Antichrist! But what we DO have is a large number of passages describing that they surely will! This is clearly seen in Daniel and Revelation as well as many other places.
The Witness Of the Fathers?
Where is it? A small sampling of quotes which seem to suggest a pre-trib event (with half of them steeped in ambiguity) versus an overwhelming witness that undeniably shows the Church has fully expected to face Antichrist since its inception! Which should we believe?
The Witness Of History?
Where is it? Where in all of history has God removed his Church in order for evil to rise and reign? The Church has always been given the grace needed to face whatever persecutions and tribulations it has faced.
The Witness of Man?
If we receive the witness of men, the witness of God is greater… -John an apostle of Christ
When questioning, down through the years, why individuals believe the Church will not face Antichrist, the most common reply I have received is: “I believe it because Pastor (or some other ‘trustworthy’ figure) says it is Bible truth; and if he says it is so, then I believe it!” They believe it because somebody they trusted told them to believe it. How reliable of a witness is that?
Should we listen to what our preachers and teachers are telling us? Absolutely! Should we accept what they are saying without question (or a demand for confirmation)? Absolutely not!
And Jesus answered and said unto them, Take heed that no man deceive you. 5 For many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many. Matthew 24:4-5
For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables. 2Timothy 4:3-4
Considering the fact Jesus, as well as his apostles, sternly warned of those who would come speaking in Jesus’ name and deceive others with their words, I see basing your beliefs solely upon the teachings of others as pretty shaky ground to build upon.
Have YOU be deceived into believing a fable by trusting the words of someone who was misled themselves?
Laying aside the fact I personally believe the pre-trib rapture teaching is a provable hoax, and looking specifically at the question of whether or not the Church will face the evil day of Antichrist’s reign, I find myself asking: “Why should the Body of Christ believe we will not see that day?” We are surrounded by a very strong and reliable witness that we certainly will!
And I believe there will come a day of great accountability for those who are teaching we will not!
Following is a link to a heartfelt message the Lord gave me on this accountability, and the very serious damage being done by those promoting their unbiblical teachings of the last days and the return of our Lord. If you have not read it I ask that you would consider doing so. For your own sake as well as that of those who trust your words.
The Curse Of The Pre-Trib Rapture -by Paul Benson
May the LORD light our path with the truth of his Word; and deliver his people from the deceptions of this age;
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