(This article is a compilation of commentary from the book ‘The Pre-Trib Rapture: A Bucket Full Of Holes!’ by Paul Benson)
A false balance is abomination to the LORD: but a just weight is his delight. -Solomon son of David
I can’t help but notice a trend in today’s preaching that does not mirror a ratio of emphasis we see in the Bible. What I mean by that is: How many times do the Scriptures mention the ‘catching away’ of the Church? Not many. One clear description we find in chapter four of 1Thessalonians, and a few brief references to it elsewhere.
But the coming Resurrection of the Dead and the transformation of the living Saints, which is going to be such an indescribably awesome phenomenon, is either vividly described or plainly referred to dozens of times in the Bible. It is a theme thoroughly woven into the fabric of Scripture! Seeing this, should we not think it odd that so much attention is given to the catching away in modern preaching, and so little given to the other?
Rapture Versus Resurrection
Today in some churches the rapture is either preached on or mentioned nearly every service. But, quite shamefully I think, the topic of the Resurrection (Christ’s as well as ours) has been demoted to a yearly examination on Resurrection Sunday. I think this not only somewhat odd (considering the importance of the topic), but also quite indicative of a people out of sync with the truth of the Scriptures, and out of sync with proper eschatology (the study of end-time matters).
The Return of Christ and the Resurrection of the Dead is the central focus of end-time prophesy; and is mentioned throughout the Bible. I think reviving a proper focus on the Resurrection is key to a proper understanding of end-time events. Let’s put some focus there now.
How old is the teaching of the coming Resurrection of the Dead? Many claim Job to be possibly the earliest writings of the Scriptures. Even he spoke of this event:
For I know that my redeemer liveth, and that he shall stand at the latter day upon the earth: And though after my skin worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see God. Job 19:25-26
Throughout the books of the Bible we see people speaking of their hope of the Resurrection. Martha said she knew her brother Lazarus would rise someday:
…Martha saith unto him, I know that he shall rise again in the resurrection at the last day. John 11:24
Paul also cited the hope of the Resurrection:
…Except it be for this one voice, that I cried standing among them, Touching the resurrection of the dead I am called in question by you this day. Acts 24:21
The Pharisees trying to trap Jesus in his words asked:
In the resurrection therefore, when they shall rise, whose wife shall she be of them?… Mark 12:23
Jesus spoke often of the blessedness of those who will be counted worthy of the Resurrection:
…for thou shalt be recompensed at the resurrection of the just. Luke 14:14
And shall come forth; they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life; John 5:29
David also voiced his hope in the Resurrection:
…For thou wilt not leave my soul in hell; neither wilt thou suffer thine Holy One to see corruption. Psalm 16:9-10
Isaiah joins the crowd marveling at this wonderful promise:
Thy dead men shall live, together with my dead body shall they arise. Awake and sing, ye that dwell in dust: for thy dew is as the dew of herbs, and the earth shall cast out the dead. Isaiah 26:19
But not one of these people, or any others in the Bible, referred to their ‘blessed hope’ as that short trip from earth to the clouds known as the ‘Rapture’. Their hope was in, and their main focus upon, becoming like Jesus through the Resurrection of the Dead. Other than its popularized mention in 1Thessalonians 4, where do you see in the Bible any notable emphasis placed on the ‘catching away’? I surely do not!
So I ask again, why all this modern day focus on the ‘caught up to meet him’ aspect of Christ’s Coming? Does the Bible put the emphasis there? If you stop and think about it the ‘caught away’ part of what we experience that day is relatively minor compared to what we will experience in the Resurrection! How did things get so turned around to the point where a brief journey upwards overshadows what transpires in the Resurrection?
The dead awake with the image of Christ. The mortal has put on immortality (1Corinthians 15:54). No more sickness, disease, or dying! We’ve carried the earnest (down-payment) of our inheritance all these years and now we have the fullness of that promise in our resurrection. We have now entered eternity in a glorified body, and death can never touch us. Why minimize that and maximize being carried up into the sky?
Could that be a proper focus?
I realize pre-trib rapture folk believe that the Resurrection and the ‘catching away’ all take place in the same micro-second (a false belief discussed later in this book). But my point is: Why carry on and on about the catching away and say so very little, or often nothing at all, about our resurrection and transformation, and the glory that shall be revealed in us?
You might hear it mentioned in the reading of a text, but the pre-trib preachers rarely focus on it. Usually the brunt of the message deals with avoiding the time of great tribulation; which they incorrectly state is the wrath of God (a false notion we will also discuss later).
In all false teaching there is found an appeal to the flesh; some allure or benefit to the carnal nature. I find it telling that the rapture teaching is usually couched in the context of escaping the time of tribulation and the Mark of the Beast. While their focus there is on escapism and personal well-being, the teachings of the Bible concerning the Resurrection don’t carry the same focus.
Our anticipation of resurrection centers on laying aside concern for your own life and, thru faith in his death on the Cross, following in the footsteps of Christ; and identifying with his sufferings, death, burial, and rising from the dead, in the hope of inheriting eternal life. A proper focus is not about the preservation of self. It’s about the death of self!
For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection: Romans 6:5
I think this unbalanced focus on the ‘catching away’ rather than the Resurrection speaks volumes of the self-centered nature of modern Christianity. It’s all about what’s best or easiest for you, not about pleasing God or identifying with Jesus. When’s the last time you heard a message on any one of these verses:
… we told you before that we should suffer tribulation; even as it came to pass, and ye know. 1Thessalonians 3:4
…unto you it is given in the behalf of Christ, not only to believe on him, but also to suffer for his sake; Philippians 1:29
Which is a manifest token of the righteous judgment of God, that ye may be counted worthy of the kingdom of God, for which ye also suffer: 2Thessalonians 1:5
Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution. 2Timothy 3:12
If we suffer, we shall also reign with him: if we deny him, he also will deny us: 2Timothy 2:12
All these references are about identifying with the sufferings of Christ to the point where we suffer ourselves; but how many preach at all on this aspect of our faith? It’s not all about suffering, but should we be avoiding the topic altogether?
But, not only do the pre-trib rapture teachers shy away from verses on suffering for Christ, remarkably they even steer clear of many passages about our Resurrection and ‘catching away’! Ever heard them preach on this next one?
Our God shall come, and shall not keep silence: a fire shall devour before him, and it shall be very tempestuous round about him. 4 He shall call to the Heavens from above, and to the earth, that he may judge his people. 5 Gather my Saints together unto me; those that have made a covenant with me by sacrifice. 6 And the Heavens shall declare his righteousness: for God is judge himself. Selah. Psalms 50:3-6
The reason pre-trib preachers avoid this passage is that it is obviously a description of the Second Coming, and our gathering together unto him at that time. The passage is a direct rebuke of pre-trib theory! Some rapture theorists try to explain this passage away with some weak arguments about a later coming for judgment (And now a fourth Coming? Spare me please!), but most just ignore it and hope it won’t get brought up. Here’s another passage dealing with the Resurrection you’re not likely to hear them preach from:
But man dieth, and wasteth away: yea, man giveth up the ghost, and where is he? 11 As the waters fail from the sea, and the flood decayeth and drieth up: 12 So man lieth down, and riseth not: till the Heavens be no more, they shall not awake, nor be raised out of their sleep. Job 14:10-12
What, Job? The Resurrection won’t happen until the Heavens are no more? This prophetic statement found in Job, as astounding as it may seem, is in accord with Peter’s words about the Return of Christ:
But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the Heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up. 2Peter 3:10
Here is how Isaiah and Revelation put it:
And all the host of Heaven shall be dissolved, and the Heavens shall be rolled together as a scroll: and all their host shall fall down, as the leaf falleth off from the vine, and as a falling fig from the fig tree. Isaiah 34:4
And the Heaven departed as a scroll when it is rolled together; and every mountain and island were moved out of their places. Revelation 6:14
As with many prophetic end-time events it’s hard to pinpoint the timing of this one exactly, but the combined witness seems to put it immediately before, or in conjunction with, the Return of Christ. And Job declares it will happen before the dead rise! I guess it should be no surprise I’ve never heard Psalm 50:3-6 or Job 14:12 used by someone trying to promote the theory of a rapture before the great tribulation. They would sink their own ship using these passages on the Resurrection of the Just! Best to just leave them lay in obscurity.
So they do…
The ‘message’ of the modern day Church in our nation bears little resemblance to the Gospel of the Scriptures. But ask the ‘scriptural illiterate’ pew warmers and they would swear they are being fed manna from Heaven. If the overwhelming majority of the Bible teaching you receive is what comes from the apostate ‘mainstream’ Christianity of today you are not likely to have a proper understanding of what lies ahead for the Body of Christ. And we really do need to know the truth of it. Jesus prayed for his disciples that they would be sanctified. How? Through God’s truth.
Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth. John 17:17
I feel the believers of our generation have lost sight of a very critical aspect of the Gospel. And that is this: Truth has a sanctifying effect on a receptive heart; whereas error and deception defile a person! This is true for an individual, a church, or an entire nation. I believe this has a lot to do with the condition of the Church in our nation today; as well as the nation itself.
Our congregations are not being washed with the water of the Word, but instead soiled with crowd pleasing perversions of the truth! Most are constantly being fed outright lies. How crucial is this issue to us?
Brethren, if any of you do err from the truth, and one convert him; 20 Let him know, that he which converteth the sinner from the error of his way shall save a soul from death, and shall hide a multitude of sins. James 5:19-20
Notice how James ties truth to salvation in these verses. Erring from the truth, he says, will make you a sinner in need of being converted and saved from death. Sounds somewhat crucial to me!
To be lured away from the truth is to be lured away from Christ. I think we need to wake up to the dangerous condition of the ‘not that worried about doctrine’ believer. The churches in America are packed plum full of people who would rather agree to disagree than make any sacrifice of time or energy to ‘prove all things and hold fast that which is good’ (1Thess.5:21).
SIDE NOTE: I once posed a simple question to a professed believer and received the response: ‘I don’t know, I’ll have to call one of our elders and see what we believe.’ And he promptly did so. Sadly, this is the question he could not answer: ‘Was Jesus actually God clothed in humanity, or just one of God’s created beings?’ And the response he got from his elder was even sadder; for it turned out he was a Mormon; and they do not believe in the deity of Christ. This devout man had almost no Bible knowledge, but was assured he was being taught properly from good honest people who did. Some well meaning folk, who I am sure had his best interests at heart, were feeding him a pack of lies. What are you being fed? Are you sure it’s the truth?
…we have not followed cunningly devised fables, when we made known unto you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eyewitnesses of his majesty. 2Peter 1:16
Even in the days of the Apostles there were ‘cunningly devised fables’ attempting to lure the believers away from the truth. How much more should we beware in a day where so many have lost a love for the truth? Thank God we have a Rock to stand upon!
The Antidote to Error
We have also a more sure word of prophecy; whereunto ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a light that shineth in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day star arise in your hearts: 2Peter 1:19
The truth of God’s Word will always be the antidote for the poison of error and deception. Critical examination of teachings, and the study of Scripture in context, are truly putting that antidote to work to dispel any poison.
Prove all things; hold fast that which is good. 1Thessalonians 5:21
The various falsehoods of the pre-trib rapture teaching can be very subtle, but also very misleading. They will cause your focus to stray, and open you up to embrace concepts that are not according to the truth. And then those false concepts become *foundation for other aspects of error!
*An example I like to use is that when pressed for evidence that the Marriage Supper takes place in Heaven the normal response I get from a pre-trib promoter is: ‘Of course it takes place in Heaven, The rapture has taken the Church there; where else would it be?’. No Scriptural proof given (because there is none!); just one element of pre-trib error given as support for another.
But as I have said Lord knows how many times: Quoting your doctrine as proof of your doctrine is no proof at all!
We need to concentrate on our Resurrection (and our identification with Christ’s) the way the Bible does, instead of focusing upon the rapture and all the unsupported notions associated with the pre-trib teaching. Doing so will help keep us in the flow of biblical truth concerning the Coming of Christ and our gathering unto him.
Don’t be afraid to question your beliefs! Put them to the test and see how they stand up. If they wont hold up to close scrutiny what good are they anyway?
Open your Bible daily and drink deep.
It’s good medicine!
This article is a compilation of commentary from the book ‘The Pre-Trib Rapture: A Bucket Full Of Holes!’ by Paul Benson This book is available for free download in three formats PDF, E-Pub, and Kindle. You can grab your free copy at the DOWNLOAD PAGE.
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