by Paul Benson
As I have stated many times my mission statement as one called to be a teacher to the Body of Christ is centered around getting believers to adopt a policy of founding their beliefs only upon what is plainly and clearly stated in the Bible, and to exercise great caution over embracing ‘truths’ which have little or no foundation in Scripture. But although I see this practice as a prerequisite to abiding in the truth of God’s Word, and most would attest to the good sense of such advice, I actually meet very few who hold true to such a practice.
Although most everyone would claim their beliefs come right from the Scriptures very few can actually show where the various elements of their doctrinal beliefs are firmly stated in the Bible. The average Christian just believes what they are told to believe. And thus the Body of Christ is awash with false doctrines and fantastical extra-biblical tales that are being promoted (and merchandised) as truth revealed from Heaven.
In PART 1 of this series we looked at the mistaken belief of many that the Coming of Christ for the Church will supposedly be an extremely brief and invisible visitation. But we saw that the Bible actually teaches no such thing. It clearly teaches every eye shall see him!
In PART 2 we examined the mistaken claim that the Church departs Earth at the resurrection/catching away and goes to dwell in Heaven. But we saw that the Scriptures teach no such thing. They clearly teach the Church will join Jesus at his Return to Earth and dwell with him right here on this planet ruling and reigning with him!
In PART 3 we posed the question: Does the Bible teach multiple comings of Christ in the last-days? And we saw the Scriptures always depict the Coming of Christ as a singular event. And since the only coming portrayed in the Word of God is the Second Coming after the time of tribulation, this has to be the coming in which the dead are resurrected and we are gathered together unto the Lord.
Let’s look at what the Bible REALLY says about another of the most popular concepts being pawned off as ‘Bible Truth’ in this day: The claim that the Harvest of the Wheat (the Church) takes place seven years before the Return of Christ to Earth.
When Is The Harvest Of The Wheat?
Be patient therefore, brethren, unto the coming of the Lord. Behold, the husbandman waiteth for the precious fruit of the earth, and hath long patience for it, until he receive the early and latter rain. 8 Be ye also patient; stablish your hearts: for the coming of the Lord draweth nigh. James 5:7-8
According to James the Lord appears to be eagerly awaiting a day in which he will reap a harvest. A day in which he will enjoy the fruit of his labors here on planet Earth. And James directly ties this day of ‘harvest’ to the Coming of the Lord we are patiently longing for.
Let both grow together until the harvest: and in the time of harvest I will say to the reapers, Gather ye together first the tares, and bind them in bundles to burn them: but gather the wheat into my barn. Matthew 13:30
In Matthew 13 the Bible allegorically refers to that day the righteous dead will be resurrected, and (along with the living Saints) transformed and caught away to meet Jesus, as ‘the Harvest of the Wheat.’ This is also referred to in the Scriptures as the Resurrection of the Just and also the Resurrection at the Last Day.
SIDENOTE: Because it conflicts with their doctrine many try to say the Parable of the Wheat and Tares cannot be about the resurrection/catching away of the Church because the parable (so they say) has the wicked taken away and burned first. But that is not what is stated! They are reading their doctrine into the text, and not letting the text speak for itself. We must follow the imagery the parable presents. The tares are to be ‘bound’ in preparation for burning. The farmer would separate the weeds out and bind them in bundles prior to harvesting the wheat so as not to taint his harvest with bad seed. Then he would harvest the wheat. Then he would return and burn the field and the bundles of tares in preparation for the next crop. He would not burn the field with his wheat still in it! I personally believe this ‘binding to be burned’ is referring to the sorting out or sifting that will be accomplished in the last days by the Mark of the Beast. The tares will be marked for destruction (bound for burning) by the choice they have made to take the Mark and submit to the Beast. Then comes the Harvest of the Wheat. I give a deeper look at the parable of the Wheat and the Tares, and how poor a fit the pre-trib theory is to that parable in THIS ARTICLE.
Matthew and James are not the only ones who used this parabolic imagery of the harvest in regard to God’s dealings with mankind. Even the angels use that terminology!
And another angel came out of the temple, crying with a loud voice to him that sat on the cloud, Thrust in thy sickle, and reap: for the time is come for thee to reap; for the harvest of the earth is ripe. Revelation 14:15
In promoting the concept of a pre-tribulation ‘rapture’ of the Church what people are really saying is that the Harvest of the Wheat takes place seven years before the Second Coming of Christ. My question is: Where in the Bible is the foundation for this notion? Where are the Scriptures that would give us a picture of that timing? I can find none that do so!
The Word of God certainly has a great deal to say about the coming resurrection of the believers, and the day we will be joined to our Lord as his Bride, BUT…
Where in the Bible do we see it stated that this harvest takes place before the Second Coming? And where are the Scriptures that tell us this event is before the time of great tribulation? There are none! Have you ever come across a place in the Word of God where it plainly and clearly states the Church will be* taken out of this world before the reign of Antichrist and his persecution of those who follow Jesus? No! And neither have I.
(*Many claim Revelation 3:10 is a promise the Church will leave this world before the time of great tribulation. That claim is a classic example of the way the pre-trib teaching must be forced into the Scriptures. The verse makes no reference to the catching away of the believers, or even of the end-times in general. I discuss the real message of Rev. 3:10 in THIS ARTICLE.)
There is not so much as even one passage in the Bible that clearly presents the timing they are claiming of a pre-trib rapture!
It is a claim of timing without any biblical foundation! Though many have been convinced to believe that idea, and stubbornly promote it as a teaching of the Bible, it is totally unreasonable to do so. Anywhere we look in the Word of God the event of the Harvest of the Wheat is clearly tied to the Second Coming of Jesus at the end of the world. NEVER is it presented as something that happens before that day!
The field is the world; the good seed are the children of the kingdom; but the tares are the children of the wicked one; 39 The enemy that sowed them is the devil; the harvest is the end of the world; and the reapers are the angels. Matthew 13:38-39
Just as the Flood in the days of Noah brought an end to the world that then was, so also shall the Return of Jesus be the end of the world that now is.
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. 11 Seeing then that all these things shall be dissolved, what manner of persons ought ye to be in all holy conversation and godliness, 12 Looking for and hasting unto the coming of the day of God, wherein the heavens being on fire shall be dissolved, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat? 13 Nevertheless we, according to his promise, look for new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness. 2Peter 3:10-13
(*If we look at the complete context of 1Thess. 4:13 thru 5:11 (a chapter break severs that context if we are not careful) in which what is called ‘the rapture passage’ is found we see this phrase from 2Peter used once again:
1Thessalonians 5:2 For yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so cometh as a thief in the night. 3 For when they shall say, Peace and safety; then sudden destruction cometh upon them…
The fact that the sudden destruction of the Return of Christ in v.5:2-3 is described in this very same Scriptural context describing the resurrection/catching away to meet Christ in the air in v.4:16-17 prohibits any notion of a pre-trib timing. Prayerfully study the entire context (v.4:13-5:11) for yourself and you will see the timing associated with the catching away of 1Thess 4 is clearly the Second Coming. The entire context is a description of the Second Coming of Christ! Even most pre-trib theologians and preachers will admit that when pressed to do so. But they still preach 1Thess. 4:16-17 as a supposed reference to their pre–trib rapture knowing full well it is not! If that is not outright deception then what is? )
In this passage above from 2Peter we once again see a theme consistently presented throughout the New Testament. The followers of Christ are awaiting the day of Christ’s Return at the end of the world in which all things will be make new. We are never shown to be awaiting any other day.
And thou shalt be blessed; for they cannot recompense thee: for thou shalt be recompensed at the resurrection of the just. Luke 14:14
And, behold, I come quickly; and my reward is with me, to give every man according as his work shall be. Revelation 22:12
According to the Scriptures the day we will be recompensed or rewarded is the day of the Resurrection of the Just, and it is also the day of Christ’s Second Coming as we see in the following:
And the seventh angel sounded; and there were great voices in heaven, saying, The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of his Christ; and he shall reign for ever and ever. …. thou hast taken to thee thy great power, and hast reigned. And the nations were angry, and thy wrath is come, and the time of the dead, that they should be judged, and that thou shouldest give reward unto thy servants the prophets, and to the saints, and them that fear thy name, small and great; and shouldest destroy them which destroy the earth. Revelation 11:15-18
According to the Scriptures our resurrection, reward, and our gathering together unto Christ all happen on the same day: The Second Coming of Christ at the last trump. If the pre-trib timing were correct the Church would receive their reward (behold, I come quickly; and my reward is with me) seven years before the Return of Christ to Earth. But that is direct conflict with what the Scriptures actually teach! The day Christ returns to begin his rule here on earth is directly tied to that day we will receive our promised reward. We are NOT harvested and recompensed seven years earlier in a pre-trib rapture. To separate the Resurrection of the Just and the reward of the righteous from the day of Christ’s Second Coming is to unravel the very fabric of Scripture; for these concepts are tightly woven together throughout the New Testament!
I challenge you to search the Scriptures and find any place which plainly describes the Harvest of the Wheat (the resurrection/catching away of the Church) as an event taking place before the tribulation or before the Return of Christ.
You will not find any such thing in the Word of God!
To find the concept of a pre-trib rapture you must depart from the Word of God, and look instead to the teachings of man; for that is the origin of that erroneous fable of escapism!
It is clearly a doctrinal house without a biblical foundation. It will not endure the coming storm. I would not want to be dwelling in that house when it collapses.
It could be a fatal mistake. And for many it will be!
I certainly hope that is not you.
Additional Resource: Many do not comprehend the seriousness of believing and promoting the notion of a pre-trib rapture of the Church. If you believe there is no danger in holding to and preaching the pre-trib doctrine you are quite mistaken! Please consider reading this article that explains that danger:
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