One major doctrine which was consistently taught to me and fully embraced by me for the first 45 years of my life was the “pre-tribulation rapture”! My paternal grandfather – a Baptist minister and my parents who were faithful Baptists taught us this doctrine. Moody Bible Institute in Chicago, where I trained for three years taught this doctrine. The Berean Mission with which I served in Dominica , West Indies subscribed to this doctrine and “Brethren” assemblies in Gospel Halls, with which we gathered for 16 years also hold firmly to this doctrine. I could not have graduated from MBI, could not have served with Berean Mission and could not have been received into assemblies meeting in Gospel Halls if I had not subscribed to this doctrine!
But let us simply test this doctrine which teaches that believers will be caught up to meet the Lord in the air prior to the seven year tribulation and thus at least seven years prior to the revelation of the Lord Jesus when He returns from heaven to the earth.
The tests we will use are found in the article “Marks of False Teaching vs Sound Doctrine” and are summarized by the acronym, “FABLES”:
F air speeches which deceive and which are taught for F ilthy lucre’s sake characterize false doctrines. (Rom.16:17,18; Titus 1:11) The “pre-trib. rapture” teaching cannot be found stated in scripture and those pastors, evangelists, missionaries and Bible school and seminary professors who teach it would lose their jobs if they rejected it! This is the major reason why this doctrine continues to be taught – a religious system has made it a requirement for such to be “on the payroll”, in spite of the fact that neither the Lord Jesus nor His apostles ever taught it!
A dditional words to those of scripture must be used to state false doctrines. (Prov.30:5,6) A “seven year tribulation” which is a key foundation for this doctrine is absolutely foreign to the Bible! The idea that the catching up of the saints to meet the Lord in the air (I Thess.4:13-18) precedes, by at least seven years, the revelation of Christ is not only absent from the scriptures but clearly contradicts the clear teaching of II Thess.1:6-10! There we learn that the believer’s rest from trouble comes not seven years before but rather “when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with his mighty angels, in flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ…”
B ereans and those who follow their example (Acts 17:11) will not embrace such doctrines. The Jews at Berea were more noble than those in Thessalonica in that they would not even accept the preaching of the apostle Paul as “Gospel truth” until they had first searched the scriptures daily whether those things were so! But I, like millions of others, placed implicit trust in men who taught me this doctrine and for decades believed and taught it myself without testing it by these clear standards of scripture! Had I been taught the clear scriptural tests of doctrine and had applied them, I never would have embraced such a teaching! That is why I believe it is imperative to teach these objective tests of doctrine to all believers today!
L ies which deceive by sleight of men and cunning craftiness is the essence of such doctrines. (Eph.4:14) The lies which are associated with the “pre-trib. rapture” teaching are far too numerous to list in this brief article but let me mention just a few. First and foremost, it is based on a false interpretation of John 14 which inserts words and ideas into that chapter which are absolutely foreign to the record! It teaches that the Lord Jesus in John 14 was talking about going away to heaven, coming back from heaven, to take his people to be with him in heaven and that He is the only way to heaven! But “heaven” is never mentioned in the whole context! Rather, the Lord Jesus was telling his disciples about his going away for a little while into death on the cross when the world would rejoice and his disciples would be sad. He was talking about coming back out of death in resurrection when his disciples would rejoice. He clearly told them that He was in the Father and that the reason for His going away and coming again was so they could be where He already was… “in the Father”!
Another lie which is clearly associated with the pre-trib doctrine is “the imminent return of Christ” for His church, i.e. that no prophecy of scripture remains to be fulfilled BEFORE the rapture and thus He may come at any moment! But scripture never once teaches such an idea! Rather it clearly reveals many events which must take place prior to that event. See Matthew 24:29-42. See also I Cor.15:52 where scripture clearly teaches that the resurrection and transformation of bodies of the saints from mortal to immortal and from corruptible to incorruptible takes place “at the last trump”! Pre-trib rapturists have no scriptural explanation for this fact!
But “LAST THINGS” in scripture are preceded by a “first” or a series of similar things. The first trumpet in scripture is the one sounded when God came down upon Mount Sinai. The last trump is when Christ comes down from heaven on the Mount of Olives. The first trumpet is mentioned 5 times in scripture.(Exodus 19:13,16,19; 20:18 & Hebrews 12:19)The last trump is also mentioned 5 times in scripture.(Isaiah 27:13; Zechariah 9:14; Matt.24:31; I Corinthians 15:52 & I Thessalonians 4:16) No other single trumpet is mentioned as often in scripture! All other trumpets are sounded by men or angels. But no man or angel is mentioned in connection with the sounding of the first or the last trump. God is the one who sounds the last trump. (Zech.9:14) Notice the DAY in which the last trump is sounded and what other events take place on that same day: The day in which the Lord Jesus returns to earth is called, in both Old and New Testaments, “The Day of the Lord”. From Isaiah’s prophecy onward “the Day of the Lord” is a major theme of scripture. The term “in that day” most often refers to the day of the Lord.
“Last things” in scripture are NEVER followed by another of the same. They are the LAST! i.e “Last days”, “last deeds”, “last error”, “last mite”, “last enemy”, “last Adam” & “last plagues”. If the last trump is the trump which calls the church up to meet Christ at a “pre-tribulation rapture”, it is disqualified from being the last trump by the seven trumpets which are sounded during, at the close of and following the time of great tribulation! But if believers are caught up to meet the Lord in the air, as He comes to earth to deliver Israel from her enemies and to set up His kingdom, the last trump follows the seven trumpet judgments and is indeed the last trump!
So the last trump, then, cannot be a pre-tribulation event!
We have also noticed (above) the lie that the believer’s rest from trouble comes some seven years before the revelation of Christ, while scripture clearly tells us both events happen at the same time. Many more lies than I have mentioned here are an integral part of the pre-trib teaching. If any reader wishes more info in this regard feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I will send you such.
E ye witnesses of the Lord’s majesty (apostles) didn’t follow such fables. (II Pet.1:16-21) Not one of the apostles who witnessed the Lord Jesus’s transformation or his resurrection ever taught the pre-trib doctrine. Some have assumed from Paul’s teachings that believers will be spared from God’s wrath (Romans 5:9; I Thess.1:10 & 5:9) that believers must be removed from earth before the tribulation! But those who teach such a conclusion fail to take into account the scriptural distinction between tribulation/trouble and wrath. Tribulation is common to all people believers and unbelievers alike. But God’s wrath is never poured out indiscriminately but is always reserved for the ungodly. Thus the saints experience tremendous tribulation in all ages and particularly during the time of great tribulation. But they are always spared from the wrath of God! Indeed, on the day of the Lord’s revelation, as He descends pouring out his wrath on earth dwellers – this is specifically the time that believers are caught up to meet Him in the air and are not the objects of His wrath!
S tatements in words which man’s wisdom teaches characterize such fables for they cannot be stated in the pure words of the Lord (Ps.12:6) or in words which the Holy Spirit teaches. (I Cor.2:13) The pre-trib doctrine is based on words of man’s wisdom from start to finish and can never be stated in the pure words of the Lord or in words which the Holy Spirit has taught.
From the assumption of the word “Heaven” in John 14, the addition of the word “imminent”, the false idea of a “seven year” tribulation and that the catching up of saints “precedes” the tribulation, the supposition that this event will be a “secret” rapture, that there are “two events” of the Lord’s coming –one when he come “for his saints” and the other when he comes “with his saints”… this doctrine is fraught with words of man’s wisdom simply because it is man’s invention and not a doctrine taught or inspired by the Spirit of God.