Rapture is the term that is used for the catching up of Christian to meet with the Lord in the air. whether the term rapture was used in the bible is not relevant what matters is that the event refers to as the rapture is in the bible. This is clearly stated in the book of second Thessalonians
15 For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep.
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. (2Thess 4:15-17)
There is no doubt that the rapture event is in the bible and that the rapture will surely take place.
What appears to be contentious is when the rapture will happen, many are of the opinion that it is imminent that is it can happen any time even now, this they base mainly on the word of Jesus that say of that time and hour no man knows not even the angel of God but the father has put it in His hand. and also on the scripture in first Thessalonians that the day of the Lord so comes as a thief in the night. However, looking at this scripture closely the imminence theory does not hold. first Jesus Christ said no man knows the time and the hour not the season Jesus gave us the signs of the end and He made us to understand we are suppose to know the season, He said
32 Now learn a parable of the fig tree; When his branch is yet tender, and putteth forth leaves, ye know that summer is nigh:
33 so likewise ye, when ye shall see all these things, know that it is near, even at the doors. (Matthew 24:32-33)
Therefore to say the rapture is imminent is not right, we might not know the time or the hour but we know the season we know when it is due just like a pregnant woman might not know the time or the hour she would deliver but she knows when she is due. Also when Paul wrote that the day of the Lord come as a thief in the night he made it clear that the day comes as a thief in the night to unbeliever, he said For yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so cometh as a thief in the night. For when they shall say, Peace and safety; then sudden destruction cometh upon them, as travail upon a woman with child; and they shall not escape. He used the word they and them which mean those the day of the Lord comes as a thief to are outside the fold but concerning us Christians he continued “But ye, brethren, are not in darkness, that that day should overtake you as a thief. We are expected to know the season though we do not know the time or the hour. Therefore, the rapture will only be imminent when the due season comes. This lead us to the next issue are we in due season now.
To know if we are in due season for the rapture the only source is to look at what Jesus said will be the sign of the season. Jesus clearly gives us sign that will make us to know we are in the season of rapture. He said just as the fig tree gives us sign when its season is due we are also to know when the rapture or the coming of the Lord is due. One of the signs that Jesus gave us to know when we are in the season of rapture is that it is immediately after the great tribulation. He said “…immediately after the tribulation of those days…” Now there is no doubt that the great tribulation has not taken place therefore we cannot be in the season for rapture, therefore any theory of imminence now is unscriptural and not true.
This brings us to probably the main dispute about rapture, the issue of pre and post tribulation theory. Having made reference to the sign of the great tribulation before rapture, it is evident that the pre tribulation theory is unscriptural and not true. Many pre tribulation believer hold on to the theory of imminence either they do not belief we are to know the season or they belief we are already in the season. For those that belief we are already in the season, they claim all the sign of the end time has already been fulfill. This is rather strange because this people believe that the great tribulation has not take place since they are pre tribulation, how then can they claim all the sign of the end time has taken place when the great tribulation has not taken place and this is the major signs of the season of rapture. On the other hand some claim the signs of the season that Jesus described in the bible are not for the rapture event but for another event, that there is not sign preceding the rapture because it is imminent. We have already dealt with the issue of imminent above as Jesus said we ought to know the season even though we cannot know the hour or the time and Paul wrote that day should not catch us as a thief because we are children of the light,
Furthermore, the pre-trib believer believe that the account given by Jesus which includes the tribulation is not about the rapture, yet there theory of imminent of the rapture is taken from this same account. Before Jesus said "Watch therefore: for ye know not what hour your Lord doth come" (Mat 24:42) and "Therefore be ye also ready: for in such an hour as ye think not the Son of man cometh" (Matthew 24:44). He first said, immediately after the tribulation of those days, if the pre-trib will refer to this account for the theory of imminent of the rapture believing Jesus was referring to the rapture in this account how can they say this same account of the end time event is not referring to the rapture, quite absurd.
Furthermore, the bible makes it clear that immediately after the rapture, the wrath of God and destruction on the unbeliever follows. Now the pre-tribulation believer agreed that the tribulation is going to be against the believers in Jesus Christ that are left behind on the earth as they called them “the tribulation saint”. What this means is that after the rapture it is believers that are left behind that will first suffer while the unbelievers continue to enjoy until after the tribulation. But what does Jesus say “ But of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only But as the days of Noe were, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be. For as in the days that were before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noe entered into the ark, and knew not until the flood came, and took them all away; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be.(Matthew 24:36-39) Likewise also as it was in the days of Lot; they did eat, they drank, they bought, they sold, they planted, they builded; but the same day that Lot went out of Sodom it rained fire and brimstone from heaven, and destroyed them all. (Luke 17:28-29 It is clear that immediately after the rapture comes the wrath of God and destruction. Now some will say that the tribulation is part of the wrath and that God has not appointed us to wrath but salvation. This is a display of lack of the word of God in that the wrath is God dealing with unbelievers while the tribulation is Satan through his agents dealing with the saints, there is no doubt that during the tribulation the unbeliever do not suffer and if the rapture had already taken place before the tribulation it means the unbelievers do not suffer immediately after the rapture which is contrary to the word of Jesus.
Furthermore, pre-trib says that it is the tribulation saints that will suffer but this still means that immediately after rapture the unbeliever will not suffer until after the tribulation and this is unscriptural.
A major problem with the pre-trib proponents is that they do not see a difference between the tribulation and the wrath of God, they quote God has not appointed us to wrath as claim that they will not go through tribulation but we are not talking about wrath here but tribulation and they are two very different and separate event The wrath is God’s judgment immediately after the rapture while the tribulation is Satan fury before the rapture.
Furthermore, pre-trib claims dispensation saying that the tribulation period will be the dispensation of the Jews and that the Jews will be the bulk of the saints during the tribulation with some left behind Christian. This is a complete display of lack of the knowledge of the word of God because it is written “In that he saith, A new covenant, he hath made the first old. Now that which decayeth and waxeth old is ready to vanish away.” To say that God will refer back to the old and decayed covenant which is ready to vanish away in later times is highly absurd and unscriptural. The pre-trib based this
From what has been said above, it is clear that the rapture is after the tribulation Jesus clearly say this, the dispensationist will want to say that this refers to another event not the rapture but there is no basis or scripture to support such a position. The imminent theory that they so relied on has been proven to be unscriptural and there is no scripture that says the rapture will be before tribulation while there are many scripture that says the rapture will be after the tribulation.
Another scripture that clearly show the rapture is after the tribulation is Paul writing to the Thessalonians. “for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, (2Thessalonian 2:3) This clearly states that the beast or antichrist will manifest before rapture. Now some will say that the apostasy refers to the rapture this is highly absurd for how can you say the rapture must come before rapture, more so apostasy means falling away, revealing bad nature.
Finally, all these depute over whether the rapture will take place before or after tribulation comes down principally to the fact that people have failed to understand the significances of the tribulation. Tribulation is for Christian it is God’s final agenda to make us ready for the return of the Lord. Tribulation though very difficult is for the good of Christian. It is a great hour of temptation but it is to make us ready to the glory that we shall enter into thereafter. Hence the scripture writes count it all joy when you fall into diverse temptation. The great tribulation is the worst hour of temptation that you can think of that if the days where not shortened even the elect will not be saved. It is a time of great temptation but the word of God says we should count it all joy and again. We are also told in the word of God “Blessed is the man that endures temptation: for when he is tried, he shall receive the crown of life, which the Lord hath promised to them that love him.” (James 1:12) It is therefore blessed to partake in the great tribulation, therefore, it is written; “Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord from henceforth: (Revelation 14:13)
The tribulation is a time of great temptation, the trial of our faith which is needful in preparing us for the return of the Lord Jesus, as Apostle Peter wrote; “though now for a season, if need be, ye are in heaviness through manifold temptations: that the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perishes, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ:” (1Peter 1:6-7) The tribulation is to purge us and make us while as it is written “And some of them of understanding shall fall, to try them, and to purge, and to make them white, even to the time of the end”. (Daniel 11:30). Also in revelation it is written ”And one of the elders answered, saying unto me, What are these which are arrayed in white robes? and whence came they? And I said unto him, Sir, thou knowest.and he said to me, these are they which came out of great tribulation, and have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb”. (Revelation 7:13-14). The tribulation is therefore what the church should go through with joy knowing it will work for our good and work out exceeding great glory for us as it is written; “For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory;” (2 Corinthians 4:17) and “Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you: but rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ’s sufferings; that, when his glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy” (1 Peter 4:12-13) It is ignorance of the ways of God to say that the church will not go through tribulation. The church should not be afraid of the tribulation but like the apostles rejoice that they are counted worthy to bear shame for the sake of Christ. We are told “count it all joy when ye fall into divers’ temptations;” (James 1:2)
At this point I know it is easy to say we are saved by faith not work therefore we there is no need for Christians to go through the tribulation. However, we must know that faith without work is dead, just as Abraham faith was tried when he was asked to offer his only son, likewise, our faith also must be tried for us to enter into glory. The trial of our faith is the work of faith by which our faith is made perfect.“(James 2:22) Then shall we be a church without spot or wrinkle. The tribulation is the trial of our faith, that is what the tribulation is for, to test our faith, so that after we have passed the test we shall be ready for the return of the Lord which is rapture.
In other words, it is lack of knowledge of the word of God that makes some to claim or think they are rapture ready because if the church is rapture ready today, the rapture will take place today. Nothing hinders the rapture except that the bride is not ready. (Revelation 19:9) Jesus is coming back to rapture a church without spot or wrinkle and once the church attains this state, The Lord will come. However, we must pass the trial of our faith which is the tribulation for us to attain this state. In essence the tribulation is actually a blessed experience that we should rejoice to go through as it comes to make us ready for the return of the Lord.
This we must know, that Jesus wants his bride now, His desire is towards his bride but the bride has not made herself ready. When the bride is ready he will come without delay. It is unscriptural to think the rapture can happen any moment now when the bride has not made herself ready. The bride must first make herself ready and she can only be ready after she has passed the fiery trial of our faith which is the tribulation. There can be no rapture without the tribulation. It is only after the tribulation that we shall be rapture and then reign with him a thousand year, As it is written if we suffer with him we shall reign with him. The rapture will happen once we are ready. My prayer and desire is that we will be ready now, but we must first pass the trial of our faith, which is the tribulation that the rapture may take place. The Lord eagerly awaits his bride but she must make herself ready first.