[25]    Last Things: Rapture and New Creation

80.    Would Christians pass through the tribulation? When will the rapture happen?

a. Different viewpoints on the timing of the rapture (1Th 4:15-16; Mt 24:40-41): (1) Pre-tribulational rapture: rapture before the 7-year tribulation

(2) Mid-tribulational rapture: rapture at the midpoint of the tribulation

(3) Post-tribulational rapture: rapture at the end of the tribulation

b. "Pre-trib" or "Post-trib"? (a lesson in the pitfall of subjective biblical exposition: first try to study the entire first column before studying the second column)
Pre-tribulational rapture
Post-tribulational rapture
(1) Nature of the second coming
(1a) imminent and sudden return:
The second coming is imminent and sudden (1Th 5:3), before any clear events such as tribulation.

Imminent return is still possible as all signs may have been fulfilled, though not likely.
(1b) unpredictable return:
The second coming is unpredictable because some of the signs will be fulfilled in tribulation.

If rapture is 7 years before the visible second coming, then everyone would be able to predict exactly.
(1c) secret return:
2Pe 3:10 describes Jesusí return as "like a thief" so rapture is a secret event not known to unbelievers.

Rapture, with the voice of the archangel and loud trumpet call, can never be a secret event (1Th 4:16).
(1d) two returns:
Different words are used for 2 returns: first the rapture or parousia; the second a visible return or epiphaneia.

The two Greek words are used interchangeably. Even pre-trib theologians admit this.
(2) Nature of the Tribulation
(2a) nature of the church:
Believers should not be under the wrath of God (Ro 5:9). Rev 3:10 says that saints will be "kept from the hour of trial".

The Greek phrase is used in Jn 17:15, meaning kept from harm but "not take them out of the world" and saints can still be kept from Godís wrath (Rev 9:4).
(2b) object of teaching on tribulation:
The tribulation is intended only for Israel, not for the church (Jer 30:6-7, "trouble for Jacob").

Jesus addressed His disciples and warned them of the persecution and suffering to come (Mt 24:1-4).
(3) Timing of events
(3a) resurrection:
Response: The resurrection in Rev 20:4-6 is for the Israelites during tribulation.

The first resurrection (Rev 20:4-6) is just before the millenium but after the tribulation.
(3b) judgment:
In the parable (Mt 13:24-29,36-43), the weeds were separated to be burnt while the wheat is taken to safety.

The parable describes the judgment "at the end of the age". The weeds are the one to be taken out first.
(3c) last trumpet:
Response: The last trumpet in 1Co 15:52 is the trumpet for the end of the church era only. [poor argument]

Rapture will occur at the last trumplet (1Co 15:52) but there are many trumpets during tribulation.
(3d) day of the Lord:
Response: The "day of the Lord" is a period of time from the rapture to the beginning of millennium.

The "day of the Lord" is the day of the second coming (Joel 1:15; Ac 2:16-21; 1Th 5:2; 2Th 2:1-2).
(3e) Antichrist:
Response: There is no good answer to this problematic verse. As a result, some put the beginning of the day of the Lord at the midpoint of the 7-year tribulation.

The second coming will not occur until the rebellion of antichrist occurs (2Th 2:3). This will occur only after the midpoint of the 7 years.
(3f) necessity of interval:
The 7-year interval is needed to accommodate the judgment of the saints (Ro 14:10, 2Co 5:10).

If all saints are to be judged consecutively in 7 years, the average time per person will be less than 1 second.
(3g) immediate return:
If the rapture happens after the tribulation, then what is the reason for a rapture if all saints will return immediately?

The Gr. term for "meeting" is used in the coming of a king to visit a city. It was the custom to go out of the city to meet him and then escort him back immediately.
(4) Church at end time
(4a) absence of the Church:
The word "church" can not be found in Rev 4-18 so it is obvious that rapture has happened.

However, "saints" were mentioned during tribulation (Rev 13:7,10; 17:6).
(4b) twenty-four elders:
The 24 elders in Rev 4:4 represent the church because of their crowns (Rev 2:10) and their white robes (Rev 19:8); also elders were appointed to represent church.

The number 24 is equal to the number in the chorus of the Leviticus priesthood. The song they sing (Rev 5:9-10) uses the 3rd person "them" not "us".
c. The above comparison shows that biblical support for the post-tribulational position is much stronger.

d. For the mid-tribulational position, the strongest support is that the last of the 7 trumpets occurs near the midpoint of the tribulation.

e. This is a non-essential doctrine. However, Christians need to be prepared to pass through the tribulation at end time with patient endurance and faithfulness (Rev 13:10).

81.    What would happen in the final judgment?
    a. The certainty of Judgment Day is supported by many Bible passages (Rev 20:12; Mt 12:36; 1Co 4:5).

    b. There will only be one judgment for all beings. However, dispensationalists believe there will be 3 judgments: (1) judgment of the nations (Mt 25:31-46), (2) judgment of believersí works (2Co 5:10), (3) Great White Throne judgment for unbelievers. This position cannot be derived clearly from the Bible.

    c. Different types of beings to be judged:

      (1) Unbelievers (Rev 20:12; Ro 2:5-7): to be condemned to eternal punishment

      (2) Believers (Ro 14:10,12; 2Co 5:10; Ro 2:6-11; Rev 20:12,15): not one of condemnation (Ro 8:1; Rev 11:18) but a judgment to evaluate and bestow various degrees of reward (1Co 3:12-15; 2Co 5:10)

      (3) Angels (rebellious ones) (2Pe 2:4; Jude 6; 1Co 6:3)

    d. The Judge: Jesus (2Ti 4:1; Ac 10:42), assisted by believers (1Co 6:2-3; Rev 20:4).

    e. Effects of knowing the certainty of judgment:

      (1) It satisfies our inward sense of a need for justice in the world (Col 3:25).

      (2) It enables us to forgive others freely (Ro 12:19; 1Pe 2:22-23).

      (3) It provides a motive for righteous living (Mt 6:20) and evangelism (Eze 33:11; 2Pe 3:9).

82.    What will the final state of the universe be? a. It is Godís new creation (a new heaven and a new earth) where we will live our eternal life in. b. Description of the new Holy City of Jerusalem (Rev 21:10):