Incorrect Tribulational Views

Incorrect Tribulational Views

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  1.           Let us briefly explore the other views of the tribulation.  We will look at the partial rapture, midtribulational, and posttribulational view.  I will lay out a basic outline of these views and then give a few reasons why these views should be regarded as incorrect.  Much of the organization of this information must be credited toward Dr. Ward Anderson. 

    Partial Rapture View

    This view holds that only those that lived a victorious and faithful Christian life will be raptured before the tribulation.  This view also states that those that lived a defeated and carnal life as a Christian will be left behind to be purified and then will eventually be raptured up. 

                The first problem with this view is that a partial rapture implies a partial resurrection.  Believers who died in a defeated and carnal condition will not be able to be purified by the tribulation.  God would only have to limit the resurrection to those that died in a victorious and faithful condition.  In I Corinthians 15:51-52 Paul wrote that “We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed…and the dead shall be raised incorruptible.”

                The second problem with this view is that it makes good works “earn” the rapture.  Ephesians 2:8-10 teaches that it is by God’s grace that we are saved and experience any blessings at all. 

    This view makes the rapture God’s means of rewarding faithfulness.  Scripture teaches though that believers will be made manifest at the Judgment Seat (Bema seat) of Christ for either reward or loss of reward.  Scripture calls this “refining gold” and “removing the dross”.  Paul wrote to believers (including those living a carnal and defeated life) that “we shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ…Every one of us shall give of himself to God” (Romans 14:10b, 12).  Paul also stated that we will “all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad” (II Corinthians 5:10). 

    The final problem with this view is that it makes the tribulation a type of “purgatory” teaching among Protestants. 

    Midtribulation Rapture View

                This view believes that the rapture will occur at or just before the mid-point of the tribulation period.  This view also believes that the raptured church is represented by the resurrection and ascension of the two witnesses in Revelation 11.

                The first problem with this view is that it denies the imminency of Christ’s return and tends to date-setting.  The doctrine of imminency is the teaching that Christ can return at any time and is very important concerning the rapture discussion.  Only God the Father knows when His Son will come back to earth (Mark 13:32).  If the Rapture precedes the 2nd coming of Christ then how could anyone predict when the 2nd coming will be?  Norman B. Harrison, a proponent of this view, stated that the trumpet judgments started with WWII.  This thought fostered the idea that any time of trouble can be the tribulation period.

                The second problem with this view is that it denies that any of the wrath of god is poured out before Revelation 11.  This means that the first 3 and a half years of the tribulation would be a time of trouble for mankind, but not because of the wrath of God.  This view states that the wrath of God is limited to just the second half of the tribulation.  They view the occurrences of Revelation 6 as just natural occurrences.  Any unbiased study of this chapter would allow one to realize that these occurrences are anything but natural.  The believers of this view interpret the phrase in Revelation 11:18, “thy wrath is only now come” as though it were about to begin rather than having already begun.  We can understand this interpretation to be flawed due to the fact that a literal translation of the Greek would actually read “thy wrath came”.  Revelation 11:18 views the tribulation has having been completed, not beginning.

                Yet another problem with this view is that it views the 2 witnesses as being symbolic of the church.  The 2 witnesses are 2 individual prophets that have a very unique ministry for 3 and a half years.  The Bible seems to imply that their 3 and a half year ministry will take place during the 2nd half of the tribulation, not the first.  Usually in Revelation 4:11 the 24 elders are used to symbolize the church in glory, never the 2 witnesses.

                The final problem with this view is that it assumes the 7th trumpet in Revelation 11:15 is the same as the “last trump” in I Corinthians 15:51-52.  The 7th trumpet is not called the last trump, it merely ends one type of God’s judgments.  The last trump is called this in relation to God’s dealings with the true church on earth and is not associated with judgment.  The final trumpet in an eschatological setting signals Christ’s 2nd advent, the end of the tribulation, and the beginning of the millennium (Matthew 24:29-31).

    Posttribulation Rapture View

                This view holds to the belief that the rapture and revelation in glory will occur at the same time.  This view says that these are just two phases of one event.  This view also believes that the 2nd coming of Christ is not imminent; the tribulation must end first.  Proponents of this view state that Scriptures that prove the time of the resurrection also prove the rapture at the same time to be posttribulational. 

                There are 3 major problems with the posttribulational view.  The first problem is that the rapture and the revelation in glory do not occur at the same time.  The Greek word “apanteisis”, translated “to meet” in I Thessalonians 4:17, does not mean “to meet and return with”.  In fact the 7-year tribulation period (Revelation 6-19) actually occurs between the rapture and the revelation in glory.  God’s primary witness is by the 144,000 saved from the 12 tribes of Israel (Revelation 7:4-14; 14:1-5).  If the church were still in the earth during this time, these converts would be a part of that spiritual body. 

                The second major problem with this view is that the rapture phase of Christ’s second coming is imminent and has no signs preceding it.  Imminent means “likely to occur at any moment, impending, overhanging”[1].  Imminent does not necessarily soon or occurring immediately.  Imminent means next in the order of prophetic events revealed in Scripture.  “Many signs were given to the nation Israel, which would precede the second advent, so that the nation might be living in expectancy when the time of His coming should draw night…To the Church no such signs were ever given.  The church was told to live in the light of the imminent coming of the Lord to translate them in His presence (John 14:2-3; Acts 1:11; I Corinthians 15:51-52; Philippians 3:20; Colossians 3:4; I Thessalonians 1:10; I Timothy 6:14; James 5:8; II Peter 3:3-4).”[2]

                There are objections to the imminency of Christ, but those objections are not that convincing.  There are three objections that we will consider.  The first is that Peter had to die before the Lord could return (John 21:18-19).  The problem with this is that death itself is not imminent, it is impending.  The same context of this passage shows that the disciples believed that Christ would return before the death of John, due to the misunderstanding by the disciples John wrote to show that was not the point of Jesus’ comments.  The disciple’s attitude was the opposite of the posttribulational view.  They were not sure whether or not they would be included in the rapture.  The second objection to imminency is that the great commission implies a vast program (Matthew 28:19-20).  Nothing in this passage though mentions the church’s success in fulfilling this program.  If there were any conditions of a successful commission for the return of Christ then the missionary work of the early church would have fulfilled any of those conditions.  The third and final objection to imminency is that Paul’s ministry would last some time (Acts 9:15).  Paul was not overconfident though (I Corinthians 4:19).  Paul also mentions that the Corinthians were waiting for the coming of the Lord, not for the completion of his ministry (I Corinthians 1:7).

                The third problem with the posttribulational view is that the time of the resurrection is not proved from the passages that they endorse.  At the close of the tribulation the first resurrection occurs (Revelation 20:4).  To argue that Daniel 12:1-3 sets the time of the resurrection is to ignore the progressive nature of resurrection.  Daniel sees that everyone saved and unsaved, will be resurrected, and he does not distinguish times.  The fact that there would be a 1,000 year period between at least two of the resurrection times is a clarification left for the New Testament to make. 

     


    [1] Anderson, Ward A Syllabus for New Testament Prophecy, pg. 13

    [2] Pentecost, J. Dwight, Things to Come, pg. 202-203

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