Based on: John 14:1-3
The Lord says in Isaiah 1:18: “Come let us reason together.” The context for Isaiah’s verse is sin, but God gave us good minds. He wants us to think. That’s what we’re going to do today. We’re going to reason together about the pre-Tribulation Rapture of the church. Too often, people who oppose this sound doctrine and clear Word of God spew out pages of Scripture and say, “There – that proves there’s no pre-Trib Rapture.” But it doesn’t, it simply means they’re able to take Scripture out of context and prove anything they want.
The way I operate is to take the Word of God and try to critically think about it. What does it say? What’s the context? What are the implications? In other words, I attempt to use logic and reason in discerning what God intends – seeking what the Scriptures say versus imposing my own biases onto the Biblical text. In that vein, let’s talk about heaven.
Almost everyone wants to go to heaven. There are those who think they don’t care because of their backgrounds and what they’ve been taught, but most folks see heaven as a goal. The problem is they simply don’t know the truth about how one gets there. Neither do they understand what heaven really is and the implications of that.
In the Old Testament the primary understanding was that death caused one to go to Sheol. Sheol was always down and the place the soul remained – whether in torment or as a place of rest. We clearly see the distinction in Jesus’ narrative about the beggar Lazarus and the rich man in Luke 16. In that, we understand there were two compartments in Sheol that were separated by a great chasm. Those who were unrighteous – such as the rich man – were in agony, while the righteous – the beggar in this case – went to be by Abraham’s side in peace.
Given this account, we know that those in Sheol were conscious and aware of their surroundings. In Ezekiel 32 we also see that there are unrighteous spirits who were great rulers in Sheol who stir up in anticipation when more of their kind are headed down to them.
The idea of heaven for ancient Israelites was far off. Isaiah prophesied about it in Isaiah 26 as a time when the dead would rise in joy. Until Jesus came, died, and was resurrected, the thought of actually going to heaven to be with God wasn’t really even considered. Even the thief that perished alongside Jesus at the cross would only go at that time to Paradise with Jesus in the good compartment of Sheol.
However, once Jesus went there with the keys to Death and Hades, that changed everything. He released the captives from Sheol and brought them to heaven when He ascended to the right hand of God.
Since Jesus’ resurrection, when someone dies, his body goes into the grave and his soul goes to be with Jesus. There is this separation of body and soul. But God in making man wants us whole – that has always been His intent. Paul in 1 Corinthians tells us that our bodies, which are perishable, will be raised imperishable in glory; in fact, John tells us that we will be like Jesus when raised with our glorified bodies. In actuality, this glorified state is the only one in which we can stand before God and not be burned up because of our sins. God is so holy that in our current state of sinful flesh, just being in His presence would destroy us.
In summary, since the time of Jesus, when believers die, we go into His presence in a disembodied state. This means that at some point we have to be reunited with these new glorified bodies that God will give us.
I presume that soul rest is what most believers think about when heaven comes to mind. But, this is only a temporary situation given what Paul and John tell us.
Is there a circumstance in which people don’t simply go to reside with Jesus in this disembodied condition?
Yes, 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17 describe this. Paul says:
For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord.
So, at some point believers who are alive will be taken to heaven along with believers who previously died. This is the event that causes us to gain our glorified bodies.
Now, let’s think about this reunion. It’s what we call the Rapture, coming from the Greek word harpazo – which means to be snatched up – and the Latin word rapturus; so yes, the word Rapture is in the Bible, having coming from the Latin Vulgate translation.
In the Rapture, we are taken to heaven in glorified bodies to be with Jesus. The issue is the timing. Are we taken pre-Trib or post-Trib?
What happens at the end of the Tribulation? All the saints, clothed in white linen accompany Jesus to earth when all the peoples of the earth are gathered against Jerusalem and God on the plains of Armageddon. Jesus speaks and destroys them all. Under a post-Trib scenario, the remaining believers on earth, i.e. all who have not been martyred, would have to be Raptured, given their glorified bodies, and then immediately turn around to accompany Jesus in His glorious return when all eyes see Him and mourn. The dead in Christ would also have to rise at this time to go with Jesus back to earth in this rapid turnaround.
There is then a 75-day period prior to the beginning of Jesus’ Millennial Reign on earth where we will rule and judge with Him. It is generally believed that during these 75 days, the nations are judged along with God cleaning up the earth from the abominations that occurred during the Tribulation. The wedding feast of the Lamb likely also happens at this time. Once these three acts are completed, the 1,000 years of the Millennium begin. These several things all occur on earth.
Here are several $64 million questions:
- When does the Bride of Christ join with Jesus to be wedded if the wedding feast is right before the Millennium? And, it must be at that time because of the many guests who will be invited, including the OT saints and likely those who believed and remained alive during the Tribulation.
- When does John 14:1-3 apply where Jesus says?
- “Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also.
- What is that place and where is it?
- It obviously must be in heaven, i.e. the Father’s house, because Jesus says He will come for us and take us there.
- Given the timing of the end-of-Tribulation event, when will believers actually be in heaven and spend any time with Jesus as His beloved Bride? The logistics of that final period on earth prior to the Millennium don’t lend themselves to a good and satisfactory answer.
What this means is that logic dictates the Rapture must occur at an earlier time than right at the end of the Tribulation. If we examine the timing of the pre-Trib Rapture, we see that it solves these various dilemmas. Not only that, but it correlates with the various promises made by Jesus and the apostles in their writings. It also explains how we spend time in heaven so as to fulfill the Words of Jesus.
What do I mean?
- With a pre-Trib Rapture, we – the Bride of Christ – go to be with our beloved Bridegroom and consummate our marriage IN HEAVEN. In fact, Jesus rescues His Bride so that the unbelieving world doesn’t torment us as God rains down His wrath in judgment. Wouldn’t a loving Bridegroom want to protect His Bride?
- In heaven with Jesus, we spend 7 years – which correlates to the 7 days of a Galilean wedding, which is the template. The son, when the father gives the command, goes unexpectedly for his bride and takes her to his chambers at his father’s house, where they consummate their betrothal.
- It is during these 7 years that believers are judged at the Bema Seat for our works done in Christ. When else would this occur?
- God’s judgment is for the unbelieving world; it is not for those who have already chosen Jesus to be their Savior, Lord, King, and Bridegroom.
- When we return to earth along with Jesus at the end of the Tribulation, we remain on earth in the intervening 75 days and for the following 1,000 years.
- Since this is the case, when else would we be in heaven than during the Tribulation?
- It obviously must be then – there is no other logical time period.
- What is heaven?
- It is this period in which we spend time with Jesus in the bridal chambers during the Tribulation.
- After those 7 years, we remain on earth. We’ve gone through the Bema Judgment and gained our rewards, or lack of them. The idea of us sitting around on clouds, strumming our harps, and eating bon-bons forever is a myth – actually a BORING myth. It simply won’t happen like that.
- Amir Tsarfati recently said:
- “There are a lot of teachers that teach that Christians will go through the tribulation. Well, be my guest. I can tell you one thing, this whole debate over pre-trib, mid-trib, post-trib, it’s just like going to a restaurant and choosing how you want your steak – rare, medium, well done? How do you want to get to heaven? Rare, medium-well, or well done? All I know is this – if we need to spend time in front of the Bema Seat of Jesus, and if we need to stay and have the marriage ceremony up there, and if we want to look at those mansions that He’s been faithfully working on for the last 2000 years, we won’t be doing it with crutches and on wheelchairs after having survived halfway through the tribulation. We won’t be completely dead without heads, because we are at the end of the tribulation. No, that’s not the case. We’re standing there. The only thing that has to happen to all of us prior to us going to be with Him is that all of our lowly bodies will have to change. That’s it!”
- This is exactly right.
- Heaven as we think of heaven occurs only during the 7 years of the Tribulation. Following that, we return to earth with Jesus and begin doing useful work in His Kingdom during the amazing 1,000 years when He sits on the throne in Jerusalem.
- Logic through proper interpretation of Scripture tells us that the pre-Tribulation Rapture is the only reasonable doctrine for how believers get to heaven, what we do there, and what happens after that.
- The doctrine of the pre-Trib Rapture is sound and is true. It is doctrine.
- Since that’s the case, shouldn’t all truly born-again believers be watching eagerly and with great anticipation for the Lord’s return in order to be the faithful servants that He wants us to be?
Gary please define useful work.
Of course I don’t know for sure, but I think it will have to do with what God initially told Adam and Eve and Noah: He wanted them to be fruitful and multiply and probably convert the earth to essentially what the Garden of Eden was. After the Millennium, the earth will be remade and will need a lot of tending by God’s children. I think at that time we finally fulfill what God intended for the earth. Beyond that – who knows?