The Pre-Tribulational Rapture "Confidence" Game
by Tom Stewart
May 10, 1999
Life is a game. "Let
us run with patience the Race that is set before us" (Hebrews
12:1). But, unlike the games that the world plays, the Christian is called upon to
direct his attention upon the "prize of
the high calling of God in Christ Jesus" (Philippians
3:14), making the LORD Jesus the focus and purpose for running the Race. "Looking unto Jesus the Author and Finisher of Our
Faith" (Hebrews 12:2). [See
our article, "How to Trust God" ---New Window, to examine
how our necessities are merely opportunities to trust God.]
Confidence is the name of the Christian's game. "Now faith is the substance [literally, confidence] of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen" (Hebrews 11:1). Faith in God, then, is another way of stating the Saints' confidence. "For we walk by faith, not by sight" (2Corinthians 5:7). Our confidence in Bible Prophecy is a product of our understanding of what God has revealed to us in His Word. "Let every man be fully persuaded in his own mind" (Romans 14:5). Our hope of a Pre-Tribulational Rapture must ultimately rest upon our confidence that being "kept from the Hour of Temptation" (Revelation 3:10) means being delivered from entering the Tribulation Week via a Rapture escape. "Watch ye therefore, and pray always, that ye may be accounted worthy to escape all these things that shall come to pass, and to stand before the Son of Man" (Luke 21:36).
How do we know that there will be a Rapture? Consider the following passage from the Apostle Paul's first epistle to the Thessalonians. "16 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: 17 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" (1Thessalonians 4:16-17). Notice how clearly Paul speaks of a catching up of those who "are alive and remain" immediately after the resurrection of the "dead in Christ". And, both occur after the sounding of the "Trump of God". "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" (1Corinthians 15:52). ["Must There Be a Pre-Tribulational Rapture?" ---New Window is our attempt to answer this timely question.]
Since this writer sees more than one Rapture in Scripture, i.e., the "Come Up Hither" of the Pre-Tribulational Rapture (Revelation 4:1) and the "Come Up Hither" of the Pre-Wrath Rapture (11:12,15), First Thessalonians 4 is actually describing the events of the Pre-Wrath Rapture-- toward the End of the Tribulation Week. [Our article, "The Seventh Trumpet and the Second Rapture" ---New Window, attempts to explain this distinction.] Luke 21:36 is a Pre-Tribulational Rapture promise to "escape all these things that shall come to pass [all the judgments of the Tribulation Week]" (Luke 21:36), but to only those who "watch ...and pray" (21:36). This worthiness to escape is based upon our abiding in Christ. "And now, little children, abide in Him; that, when He shall appear, we may have confidence, and not be ashamed before Him at His Coming" (1John 2:28). [See our article, "Babylon the Great (Part 4), Or, Come Out of Her, My People" ---New Window to see the relationship of faith, love, and obedience to our abiding in Christ.]
Confidence in our Covenant Keeping God is the foundation of any hope that we possess of a Pre-Tribulational Rapture. "The LORD is my Rock, and my Fortress, and my Deliverer; my God, my Strength, in Whom I will trust; my Buckler, and the Horn of my Salvation, and my High tower" (Psalm 18:2). David testified of not only past deliverance, but confidence in future deliverance. "The LORD that delivered me out of the paw of the lion, and out of the paw of the bear, He will deliver me out of the hand of this Philistine" (1Samuel 17:37). [See our article, "The Character of God Is Revealed in the Rapture" ---New Window, which emphasizes the point that we must trust the very character of God for the Pre-Tribulational Rapture.]
Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego's deliverance from the burning fiery furnace persuaded Nebuchadnezzar to exclaim, "There is no other God that can deliver after this sort" (Daniel 3:29). Further, Daniel's confidence in Jehovah caused Darius to decree, "He delivereth and rescueth, and He worketh signs and wonders in Heaven and in Earth, who hath delivered Daniel from the power of the lions" (Daniel 6:27). Paul testified, "I was delivered out of the mouth of the lion. And the LORD shall deliver me from every evil work, and will preserve me unto His Heavenly Kingdom" (2Timothy 4:17-18). Peter confidently asserted, "The LORD knoweth how to deliver the Godly out of temptations" (2Peter 2:9).
In conclusion, Does faith make a difference for the future? It must, because it already has made a difference for our past and present. "Who delivered us from so great a death, and doth deliver: in Whom we trust that He will yet deliver us" (2Corinthians 1:10). Can we have confidence that God will rapture us, if we choose to distrust what He has plainly revealed to us? Obviously, this lack of confidence would be sinfully displeasing to Him. "But without faith it is impossible to please Him: for he that cometh to God must believe that He is, and that He is a Rewarder of them that diligently seek Him" (Hebrews 11:6). Our confidence in our LORD delivering us will only give us greater boldness to stand for Him. "The wicked flee when no man pursueth: but the righteous are bold as a lion" (Proverbs 28:1). May we boldly stand for Him until He Pre-Tribulationally Raptures us. "And to wait for His Son from Heaven, Whom He raised from the dead, even Jesus, which delivered us from the wrath to come" (1Thessalonians 1:10).
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