Note – I am definitely, positively, 100% premillenial. But as far as the timing of the Rapture, I am not so set in stone. I grew up a Pre-Tribber, but am now leaning towards Post-Trib.
In any case, I believe we should be prepared to meet our Maker at any time, whether it be Post-Trib, Pre-Trib, 50 years from now, tomorrow, or with our next breath being our last (with the Lord calling us home via a heart attack, asthma attack or whatever).
Having said that, the following is a defense of the Post-Trib view, along with a warning to Pre-Tribbers.
Here is a Post-Trib warning to Pre-Tribbers: God never promised we would escape persecution. Yes, you heard right. God, in His Word, never promised us Christians we would escape persecution. In fact, numerous Bible passages tell us just the opposite. Here are a few such passages:
#1) Jesus said: 18) “If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you. 19) If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you. 20) Remember the word that I said unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord. If they have persecuted me, they will also persecute you; if they have kept my saying, they will keep yours also. 21) But all these things will they do unto you for my name’s sake, because they know not him that sent me.” (John 15:18-21, KJV)
#2) Jesus prayed to the Father: 14b) “… the world hath hated them, because they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. 15) I pray not that thou shouldest take them out of the world, but that thou shouldest keep them from the evil.” (John 17:14b-15, KJV)
#3) Paul wrote to Timothy: “Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution.” (II Tim. 3:12, KJV)
In some of the world’s largest countries (China, India, etc.), Christians have suffered persecution unto death for most of the past 2,000 years. Why do American Christians believe they will escape persecution unto death?
I find it interesting that at least two groups of Christians today have no problem accepting a Post-Trib Rapture view: 1) Christians in “persecuted countries,” and 2) Christians familiar with Hitler’s reign of terror, with its Holocaust of Jews, Christians and others (two examples: Berit Kjos‘ father had personal experiences with Hitler’s reign, and Corrie ten Boom survived a Nazi concentration camp).
Shame on American Christians! In my mind, American Christians are cowards. In America, a land where the Pre-Trib teaching arose less than 200 years ago, many American Christians have succumbed to the teaching that they will never suffer persecution unto death.
In this article, Harry Bethel makes some statements I disagree with. But I am posting some excerpts here that I do agree with, regarding persecution. I have emphasized certain points by bolding, and inserted comments in [brackets]:
Not Appointed to Which Wrath?
We are living in times of easy believism, easy credit, easy living, and easy exit for the saints. The major point that pre-tribulationists try to make to uphold their view is that God has not appointed us to wrath. But we must answer the question, What is the wrath to which we are not appointed? And, can saints go through the Great Tribulation without directly suffering the wrath of God, as did the Old Testament saints in Egypt when God sent his plagues because of Pharaoh?
One of the purposes of the Great Tribulation will be for unrepentant worldlings to experience the judgment of God as have sinful societies throughout history, from the Flood, Sodom and Gomorrah, Jerusalem, and others up to the worldwide judgment of the end-time Tribulation. Another purpose will be the persecution of the saints during the Great Tribulation in order to clean us up for the return of Christ. Much of the suffering of the saints during this terrible time will be from persecution and not directly from the judgments of God. (There will, however, be suffering because of not being able to buy or sell without the mark of the Beast, etc. Christians who do not take the mark will not be able to be legally employed, pay taxes on their property, buy automobile tags, gasoline, food or anything else.)
Christians during the Great Tribulation will be like those saints of the Old Dispensation mentioned in the Book of Hebrews. They “were tortured, not accepting deliverance; that they might obtain a better resurrection: and others had trial of cruel mockings and scourgings, yea, moreover of bonds and imprisonment: they were stoned, they were sawn asunder, were tempted, were slain with the sword: they wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins; being destitute, afflicted, tormented; (of whom the world was not worthy:) they wandered in deserts, and in mountains, and in dens and caves of the earth” (Heb. 11:35-38).
In Revelation 6:9-11 it says, “And when he had opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of them that were slain for the word of God, and for the testimony which they held…And white robes were given unto every one of them, that they should rest yet for a little season, until their fellow-servants also and their brethren, that should be killed as they were, should be fulfilled.” In the next chapter the apostle John saw not just Jews but “a great multitude, which no man could number, of all nations, and kindreds, and people, and tongues, stood before the throne, and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes…And one of the elders [around the throne] answered, saying unto me, What are these which are arrayed in white robes? and whence came they? And I said unto him Sir, thou knowest. And he said to me, These are they which came out of [the] great tribulation” (7:9, 13-14).
Pre-tribulationists argue that the word “church” is not even mentioned after Revelation chapter 3. That is true (except that “churches” is mentioned in 22:16), but the “saints” are referred to more than a dozen times after chapter 3. And Jesus said, “For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no nor ever shall be. And except those days should be shortened, there should no flesh be saved: but for the elect’s sake those days shall be shortened” (Mt. 24:21-22).
Persecution & Martyrdom—The N.T. Norm
Persecution and martyrdom is, in fact, the New Testament norm. Jesus said to His disciples, “If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you…The servant is not greater than his lord. If they have persecuted me, they will also persecute you…” (Jn. 15:19-20). Peter wrote, “For even hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps” (1 Pet. 2:21). And Paul wrote, “Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution” (2 Tim. 3:12).
According to Church history all the Apostles suffered martyrdom except John who was banished to the Isle of Patmos. The apostles were thrown into prison time and again during their ministry, and suffered beatings and other persecution (Acts 5:40; 16:23; 2 Cor. 11:25; et al.). Paul was in and out of jail, suffered beatings and was incarcerated, under house-arrest, for two years (Acts 28:30) before his martyrdom.
We are not experiencing persecution in America, not because Satan has changed his strategy, but because the saints have changed theirs. Most Christians in this country have not been endued with power from On High and are not proclaiming a scriptural evangelistic message which includes remission of sins and repentance (Lk. 13:3-5; 24:47; Mk. 1:15; 6:12; Acts 3:19; 17:30; 26:19-20; 2 Pet. 3:9).
Most evangelistic messages are watered-down, easy-believism, half-truths that omit the need for repentance for salvation. Look at the Gospel tracts in the tract rack at bookstores and in your church building, or listen to your “pastor” preach an evangelistic message or give “an invitation” to see if you can even find or hear the word “repent” or “repentance” mentioned.
Some church leaders teach that believing in an imminent pre-trib rapture will influence Christians to live holy lives. But the Scriptures teach, referring to the heavens and earth being destroyed by fire, “Seeing then that all these things shall be dissolved, what manner of persons ought ye to be in all holy conversation and godliness, 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?…Wherefore, beloved, seeing that ye look for such things, be diligent that ye may be found of him in peace, without spot, and blameless” (2 Pet. 3:11-14).
There has never been a time when so many Christians believed in an imminent pre-trib rapture and yet the twentieth-century church in America can be characterized by almost anything but holiness. (With all the filth of the television programs and cheap output of the press brought into our homes, divorce, worldly dress and sports activities, ad nauseam.) Most Christians in America live and look too much like worldlings; there is no contrast, therefore in many cases there is no conviction brought about by the Holy Spirit in the lives of the unsaved.
Paul said, “…We glory in tribulations (thlipsis) also: knowing that tribulation (thlipsis) worketh patience” (Rom. 5:3). This is the same Greek word used in Revelation when John saw a great multitude in white robes and one of the elders around the throne said, “These are they which came out of [the] great tribulation (thlipsis)…” (7:9, 13-14). The Greek noun thlipsis was also used in Acts 11:19 concerning the persecution of the Church at the time of Stephen’s martyrdom and is rendered “persecution.”
“In the world ye shall have tribulation” (John 16:33). “We must through much tribulation enter into the kingdom of God” (Acts 4:22). “Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness’ sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you…for my sake…Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you” (Mt. 5:10-12).
Tribulation and persecution is not the wrath of God. Again, persecution and martyrdom is the New Testament norm. The wrath of God that Christians will be kept from is the wrath of the last day and, of course, the wrath of the Lake of Fire. Those who have been saved by Jesus have already been delivered from the eternal Lake of Fire which is the wrath to come. Paul wrote, “…Jesus…delivered us [past tense] from the wrath to come” (1 Thess. 1:10).
God Takes His People Through Tribulation
Even a casual reading of the Scriptures will reveal that God takes His people through tribulation rather than delivering them from it. Beginning with Noah and his family who were kept safe in the ark which was a type of Christ—they went right through the middle of the flood with torrential rains coming down from above and all the waters from below: “…All the fountains of the great deep [were] broken up, and the windows of heaven were opened” (Gen. 7:11).
Another well-known example is the three Hebrews who were not delivered from going through the fiery furnace which was heated seven times hotter than usual. Indeed they went right through the middle of that persecution and the Lord went through it with them.
Yet another example of God sending His saints through tribulation rather than keeping them from it, is Daniel being thrown into the den of lions. He went right through the middle of that persecution, but God sent an angel to close the mouths of the lions. That great saint brought glory to God in that tribulation.
Like the Old Testament saints listed among the heroes of faith in Hebrews 11 and all the Apostles who were martyred except John who suffered the persecution of Patmos, God sometimes lets His saints suffer and die for His glory.
Beloved, let no man deceive you. The saints will go through the tribulation depicted in the Revelation. The Antichrist will be given power “to make war with the saints, and to overcome them” (Rev. 13:7). The prophet Daniel wrote concerning the Antichrist, “He will speak against the Most High and oppress His saints…The saints will be handed over to him [the Antichrist] for [three and a half years]…He [the Antichrist] will destroy the mighty men and the holy people” (Dan. 7:25, 8:24). Christians who are compromisers before the Great Tribulation are not going to be overcomers through it.
FOR FURTHER READING
Preparing for Persecution, by Berit Kjos