It appears that for every person like me who detests confrontation, there are a dozen who apparently eat it like candy. Consequently, I tend to choose my confrontations carefully. And have all my ducks in a row in advance.
The issue of the Rapture is always confrontational. It is irrelevant to salvation, but utterly indispensable to rightly dividing the Word of Truth, as the Scriptures command.
One is saved whether one agrees with a particular view of the Rapture or its timing or not. Salvation is a gift of grace through faith, not a subsequent product of grace through the ‘correct’ doctrinal understanding of peripheral issues.
Salvation comes by,
“Being confident of this very thing, that He which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ:” (Philippians 1:6).
We are saved by that confidence, by trusting that Jesus paid the price for all sin at the Cross and that He will keep His Word that,
“All that the Father giveth Me shall come to Me; and Him that cometh to Me I will in no wise cast out.” (John 6:37)
From the perspective of salvation, it is totally irrelevant when the Rapture occurs, or even if there IS a Rapture TO occur.
Are you with me, so far?
Understanding the Rapture is relevant when it comes to rightly dividing the Word. Without a clear division between the Church Age and the coming 70th Week of Daniel, the revealed Word of God becomes contradictory.
The Apostle John wrote,
“And every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God: and this is that spirit of antichrist, whereof ye have heard that it should come; and even now already is it in the world.” (1 John 4:3)
Note carefully that John is writing of the spirit of antichrist, in the context of the beginning of the Church Age. Next, he tells the believers of the Church Age:
“Ye are of God, little children, and have overcome them: because greater is He that is in you, than he that is in the world.” (4:4)
The explicit promise is that the spirit of antichrist will not overcome believers indwelt by the Holy Spirit, Whose indwelling Presence was promised by Jesus Christ:
“Nevertheless I tell you the truth; It is expedient for you that I go away: for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send Him unto you.” (John 14:26)
Compare that to the Promise;
“I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you.” (John 14:18)
But Paul says that the antichrist (“that Wicked”) will not be revealed (and the Tribulation will not start) until HE who ‘lets’ [restrains evil] be “taken out of the way.” (2nd Thessalonians 2:7-8)
Note the Restrainer is a ‘He’ not an ‘it’. The Restrainer isn’t THE Church, the Restrainer is the Person that Indwells the Church until Jesus returns to claim it.
And John writes that, during the tribulation,
“And it was given unto him [antichrist] to make war with the saints, and TO OVERCOME THEM: and power was given him over all kindreds, and tongues, and nations.” (Revelation 13:7)
Are you still with me? Jesus promised Church Age believers that they would be indwelt by the Holy Spirit until He came, and that He would not leave Church Age believers ‘comfortless’.
John taught that Church Age believers could NOT be overcome by the spirit of antichrist because the indwelling Holy Spirit is ‘greater than he who is in the world’.
BUT, that the antichrist WOULD be able to ‘make war with the [Tribulation] Saints and OVERCOME them. (Revelation 13:7) Do you see the point?
The Tribulation Period is the ‘time of Jacob’s Trouble’- not the Age of Grace. It will operate under the rules of Jewish Mosaic Law, including a new Temple on Temple Mount, the resumption of Temple worship and Temple sacrifice.
The Church Age of Grace cannot coexist with the 70th Week of Daniel, since the Tribulation is, by definition, the final Week of the Age of the Law.
Because it operates under different rules, the Tribulation Saints CAN be overcome by the spirit of antichrist, because the Holy Spirit’s indwelling ministry has been withdrawn.
The Holy Spirit is the Comforter that Jesus promised would remain until He came, promising He would not leave us ‘Comfortless’ — making no provision for breaking that promise to one generation of believers somewhere down the line.
Returning to the principle of choosing one’s confrontations wisely, there is a difference between TEACHING a pre-trib Rapture and CONFRONTING someone with it. One does NOT need to understand the Rapture’s role in unfolding prophecy to participate in it.
If a person is saved, there is no eternal benefit to be had by making them pre-Tribulation Dispensationalists.
Neither is there any benefit to be had [apart from pride] in endlessly debating the topic. One cannot ‘rightly divide the Word’ if one’s interpretation contradicts Scripture, and without a decisive conclusion to the Church Age, the Apostle John’s letters to the Church Age contradict his vision of the Tribulation.
It makes no difference when the Rapture takes place if the Church Age includes the Tribulation Period. But without a conclusion to the Church Age, there can be no resumption of Daniel’s 70th week, either.
It cannot simultaneously be the Age of the Grace and the Time of Jacob’s Trouble (Jeremiah 30:7) without making each a distinction without a difference, which in turn, creates the ‘defense attorney’ confrontation scenario.
That is the scenario where you are bound by certain rules of interpretation and logic, whereas your debating opponent is free to make up convincing-sounding arguments as he goes along.
The end result is a fruitless confrontation over what is, in the grand scheme of things, an issue of only limited relevance.
There is no way to understand the unfolding of Bible prophecy without understanding the difference between the Age of Grace and the Time of Jacob’s Trouble.
But there is no obligation to understand Bible prophecy in order to be saved. Apart from that, Paul tells us,