The Gospel of the Rapture

For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.

1 Thessalonians 4:16-17

The Rapture of the Church: Pre-Tribulation, Mid-Tribulation, Post-Tribulation? Do any one of these three choices pervert the gospel? The answer, in my opinion, is a resounding yes.

Romans 11:6 And if by grace, then is it no more of works: otherwise grace is no more grace. But if it be of works, then is it no more grace: otherwise work is no more work.

It appears to me that believing Jesus to be the Son of God is as much a part of the gospel as believing he die for your sins, that "if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and believe." Therefore, I usually present the gospel in this fashion; if you believe Jesus was the Son of God, that he died for your sins, was buried, and rose again the third day, thou shalt be saved. I say this to point out that the first test of any doctrine or teaching is whether the gospel is perverted. If your doctrinal teaching deviates from the gospel or any of the precepts of its doctrine in any manner it is incorrect.

My case in point today is the Rapture of the Church: Pre-Tribulation, Mid-Tribulation, Post-Tribulation? Do any one of these three choices pervert the gospel? The answer, in my opinion, is a resounding yes.

If you hold to a mid or post Tribulation rapture you believe that those that have trusted in the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ can lose their salvation by taking the mark which perverts the gospel to one of works. If you can lose your salvation, what do you have to do to not lose it? Work.

Romans 11:6 And if by grace, then is it no more of works: otherwise grace is no more grace. But if it be of works, then is it no more grace: otherwise work is no more work.

Romans 4:4 Now to him that worketh is the reward not reckoned of grace, but of debt.

You cannot have it both ways.

Adding works to maintain their salvation was the problem Paul was having with the Galatians.

Galatians 3:1-3 O foolish Galatians, who hath bewitched you, that ye should not obey the truth, before whose eyes Jesus Christ hath been evidently set forth, crucified among you? 2This only would I learn of you, Received ye the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith? 3Are ye so foolish? having begun in the Spirit, are ye now made perfect by the flesh?

The issue of the rapture cannot be entertained without considering salvation as it stands in this dispensation, the times of the Gentiles aka the Church Age. This age begins from the time Israel as a nation rejected the testimony of Stephen, thus rejecting Christ as their Messiah and Saviour, and extends to the rapture. This age differs from all the others in that we enjoy liberty in Christ, that is full salvation.

Galatians 5:1 Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage.

Being under the yoke is working.

Romans 8:1 There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.

If you understood our liberty in Christ, the debate over when the Rapture takes place would be over, it is pre-Tribulation.

2 Corinthians 1:21-22 Now he which stablisheth us with you in Christ, and hath anointed us, is God; 22Who hath also sealed us, and given the earnest of the Spirit in our hearts.

Ephesians 1:12-14 That we should be to the praise of his glory, who first trusted in Christ. 13In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise, 14Which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of his glory.

Romans 8:23 And not only they, but ourselves also, which have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body.

Our bodies are the purchased possession.

The day of the redemption of our bodies brings us to the rapture.

1 Corinthians 15:52-53 In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. 53For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality.

In this dispensation we are seal with the Holy Spirit until the day of redemption which is the redemption of our bodies. This takes place at the rapture. It is the rapture that ends this age, the times of the Gentiles or the Church age.

In the Old Testament they could not be seal with the Spirit.

John 7:38-39 He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water. 39(But this spake he of the Spirit, which they that believe on him should receive: for the Holy Ghost was not yet given; because that Jesus was not yet glorified.)

Christ had not paid for sins so the Spirit could not be given, there was no eternal salvation under the old covenant. Their sins could be forgiven but were not paid for, so the saints had to be reserved in escrow in Abraham's bosom until the day of atonement. The point is they did not have liberty in Christ as we now have. If they did not maintain their faith unto death, they were lost. It was their faith they had to maintain; their works merely reflected that faith.

Romans 9:30-33 What shall we say then? That the Gentiles, which followed not after righteousness, have attained to righteousness, even the righteousness which is of faith. 31But Israel, which followed after the law of righteousness, hath not attained to the law of righteousness. 32Wherefore? Because they sought it not by faith, but as it were by the works of the law. For they stumbled at that stumblingstone; 33As it is written, Behold, I lay in Sion a stumblingstone and rock of offence: and whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed.

It was their faith toward God that got their sins forgiven, they now had to wait for the atonement to be made. It was not, believe on the Lord and you will be saved; it was believe whatever the Lord told you at the time. He told Noah to build a boat, Abraham to sacrifice his son, Israel to keep this law. It was still by faith.

Our sins are bought and paid for at the time of our forgiveness upon believing on the Lord Jesus Christ. We can be and are sealed with the Holy Spirit.

In the Tribulation, it is not, believe on the Lord, oh no, that time is past. It is do not worship the beast nor take his mark and you will be saved. As in the old testament, this is not works for salvation but faith. Put your faith in God and do not take the mark or it is rejecting God. It is by grace through faith but a different object of faith; we will not be there.

There is a difference in teaching that once saved, once we have the Spirit of God, once we have believed on the Lord Jesus Christ, that if we do not maintain good works or if we take the mark we will lose our salvation, between that and the gospel of the Tribulation which is to put your trust in God and not take the mark and you will be saved. The one perverts our gospel from one of grace to one of works; the other faith toward God to be saved. Tribulation salvation is the same as Old Testament salvation.

Romans 11:4 But what saith the answer of God unto him? I have reserved to myself seven thousand men, who have not bowed the knee to the image of Baal.

Those in the Tribulation who keep faith in God and do not bow the knee to the beast will be reserved by God.

Revelation 20:4 And I saw thrones, and they sat upon them, and judgment was given unto them: and I saw the souls of them that were beheaded for the witness of Jesus, and for the word of God, and which had not worshipped the beast, neither his image, neither had received his mark upon their foreheads, or in their hands; and they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years.

Our liberty in Christ is once saved always saved, without which we would have no liberty but remain in bondage to works. Therefore, our liberty in Christ necessitates a pre-Tribulation rapture as during the Tribulation the possibility of a saint taking the mark losing salvation would exist. There is no believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shalt be saved in the Tribulation. There is only put your trust in God and do not bow the knee or take the mark dying a martyr's death. Still by faith, but incompatible with our age.

If you understood our liberty in Christ, you would see that this dispensation begins with Israel's rejection of Christ and ends with the rapture and the redemption of our bodies as the world goes into the Tribulation.