The ominous front page headline of the Jan. 25, '03 edition of the Colorado Springs Gazette read, "Nuclear strike on table, Pentagon reportedly planning for worst case against Iraq."
The Article went on to report, "As the Pentagon continues a highly visible buildup of troops and weapons in the Persian Gulf, it also is preparing quietly for the possible use of nuclear weapons in the potential war against Iraq, a report by a defense analyst says...Military officials have been focusing their planning on the use of nuclear arms in retaliation for the strike by the Iraqis with chemical or biological weapons, or to preempt one, Arkin said.
Administration officials say in some circumstances, nuclear arms may offer the only way to destroy deeply buried targets that may contain unconventional weapons that could kill thousands. Some officials said the blast and radiation effects of such strikes would be limited.
But that is in dispute. Critics say a bunker-buster strike could involve a huge radiation release and dangerous blast damage. They also say use of a nuclear weapon in such circumstances would encourage other nuclear-armed countries to consider using those weapons..."
Because of the urgency of the days we find ourselves living in and our leaning towards the likelihood that nuclear war may be used by the Lord as a veil for a supernatural harvest, over the next several weeks we will be sharing a series of messages which deal exclusively with the teaching of the blessed catching up to Heaven descriptively referred to by Christians as the "Rapture."
The word "Rapture" comes from the Latin word "rapare" which means to "take away" or "snatch out." Webster's College Edition New World Dictionary defines the word "rapture" as "the state of being carried away with joy, love (or) ecstasy and a carrying away, or being carried away in body or spirit."
Our scriptural validation for the assurance that one day every true believer in Jesus Christ (whether among the dead or the living) will be caught up into the heavens to be with their Lord can be found in Titus 2:13-14, I Corinthians 15:49-54 & I Thessalonians 4:14-18.
Quoting from these passages from God's Word we read, "Looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, who gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from every lawless deed and purify for Himself His own special people, zealous for good works...And as we have borne the image of the man of dust we shall also bear the image of the heavenly Man. Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; nor does corruption inherit incorruption. Behold, I tell you a mystery: We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed - in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. So when this corruptible has put on incorruption, and this mortal has put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written: "'Death is swallowed up in victory...For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who sleep in Jesus. For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord will by no means precede those who are asleep. For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the lord. Therefore comfort one another with these words."
There are essentially 4 common views held as to the timing of this glorious event. They are each determined by their placement in time in relationship to the promised final 7 years often referred to as the Tribulation Period.
Post-Trib places this event at the close of the 7 years, Pre-Wrath places it shortly after the middle, Mid-Trib places it in the middle and Pre-Trib anticipates the Rapture will happen before the final 7 year countdown begins. Almost without exception proponents of these views agree the Tribulation is very near.
Opponents to the Pre-Trib Rapture view claim that this optimistic teaching instills an attitude of escapism in believers and that it undermines the need for believers to prepare for the Tribulation Period.
To the contrary, the Pre-Tribulationist's reply is that Scripture, in fact, encourages Christians to anticipate and look forward with hope for an escape from the coming days of tribulation.
"For it will come as a snare on all those who dwell on the face of the whole earth. "Watch therefore, and pray always that you may be counted worthy to escape all these things that will come to pass, and to stand before the Son of Man" (Lk. 21:35-36).
Whether a tribulation era saint who comes to the Lord after the Rapture or an unbeliever, according to Revelation 13:7, any preparation for the Tribulation apart from salvation in Jesus Christ is futile.
"And it was granted to him to make war with the saints and to overcome them. And authority was given him over every tribe, tongue, and nation."
Those who teach that Christians must prepare for the Tribulation end up in a quandary. To try and physically prepare for the Tribulation is useless and uncalled for in the Scriptures. Jesus stated that the truth of the matter is that no flesh will be left alive at the end of the Tribulation if He Himself does not return and stop the horrendous evil and destruction which will be sweeping the planet (Matt. 24:22).
As we quoted earlier from Luke 21, the church is instructed to pray for an escape "from all these things that will come to pass," not make provision for living through God's judgment.
Another concern expressed by opponents to the Pre-Trib Rapture teaching is that if the Rapture does not take place before the Tribulation begins, as taught, believers will abandon their faith.
We do not believe reasonable thought has been used by those who voice this objection. To propose that Bible believers, who they insist will witness the awesome events prophesied of in Scripture during the Tribulation Period, will suddenly discard their faith in Jesus Christ at the appearance of the Anti-Christ is irrational.
It is nonsensical to envision a believer saying, "The prophesied Anti-Christ has arrived, the 7 year covenant is confirmed, the Temple is being rebuilt and God's two prophets have stopped the rain and are calling down fire from heaven, so I don't believe in Jesus Christ and the Bible anymore." This idea is totally unrealistic.
According to Scripture, those who do fall away from the faith are manifested hypocrites who were never true believers to begin with.
"Little children, it is the last hour; and as you have heard that the Antichrist is coming, even now many antichrists have come, by which we know that it is the last hour. They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would have continued with us; but they went out that they might be made manifest, that none of them were of us" (I Jn. 2:18-19).
Our unwavering stand is that since the Tribulation Period has not yet begun (as is to be verified by the strengthening of the 7 year Mid East covenant prophesied of in Dan. 9:27) and the closeness of this time is evident by the continual attempts to finalize a treaty with Israel; then the Pre-Trib Rapture teaching will either be proven or disproved in the very near future.
"Then he shall confirm a covenant with many for one week; but in the middle of the week he shall bring an end to sacrifice and offering. And on the wing of abominations shall be one who makes desolate, even until the consummation, which is determined, is poured out on the desolate" (Dan. 9:27).
We have yet to meet even one Christian who is prepared to physically survive the Tribulation. Those who claim they are have not believed the Word of God for that time.
Pre-Trib opponents who admit they are unprepared paradoxically express their hope for survival in the same so-called escapism they condemn, that is, the return of Christ to save them.
The only difference is that Pre-Trib adherents believe that Christ already paid for the sins of the Church and are now "counted worthy to escape all these things that will come to pass, and to stand before the Son of Man" (Lk. 21:35-36).
As far as being prepared spiritually in these last days, the same saving faith in Jesus Christ that believers cherish at present to carry them through life's heartaches and to face the challenges of death, is the same unchangeable faith which will strengthen a believer through any time of tribulation. A true believer's strength does not lie in views of the Rapture's timing, but in their belief in the glorious unyielding promises of their Redeemer and the indwelling of His Spirit.
The Lord is coming back soon for every believer in Him.
This is the moment to put your complete trust in the Risen Savior Jesus Christ who died for the sins of the world. By His blood He has purchased eternal life for all who trust in His name.
If you would like some free information which more thoroughly explains how and why Jesus Christ paid the full penalty for the sins of the world then write and ask for "God's Plan for Salvation."