Our Excerpt today is from a paper authored by Dr. Mal Couch which was presented to the Pre-Trib Research Study Group at its annual conference a few years ago. The paper is titled: “Major Rapture Terms and Passages” and is focused on the major New Testament terms and passages that support the Pre-Tribulational Rapture of the Church. For our purposes today I wish to focus on one passage from this work which emphasizes the fact that the Church, which is the Bride of Christ, will not experience the Wrath of the Tribulation because of the Rapture.
The excerpt begins:
The rapture has to do with the dispensation of the church or those “in Christ.” The church age is a unique period with special promises. Those with Him now by faith will not face the coming wrath (1 Thess. 5:9). There was nothing like the rapture for Old Testament saints, and there will be nothing similar for Tribulation believers.
Most of the rapture passages mention the believer’s relationship to Jesus. Paul speaks of “our Lord Jesus at His coming” (1 Thess. 2:19) and of the dead as those “who have fallen asleep in Jesus” (4:14), who are now called “the dead in Christ” and who will rise first (4:17). The reason for the rapture, Paul says, is so we might escape the coming wrath and obtain salvation “through our Lord Jesus Christ” (5:9). Awake or asleep we will live together “with Him” (5:10). The apostle continues to punctuate this relationship with our Redeemer when he reminds the confused Thessalonians of this “coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our gathering together to Him” (2 Thess. 2:1).
In Paul’s great resurrection and rapture section, 1 Corinthians 15:12-28, both events are tightly tied to our spiritual position in Christ. “In Christ all shall be made alive,” he says (15:21). Jesus is the first fruits of the resurrection and then those who are Christ’s “at His coming” (15:23). And following the apostle’s great description of our “change” at the rapture and the resurrection of the dead, he concludes with this triumphant statement, “thanks be to God, who gives us the victory because of our Lord Jesus Christ” (15:57). In Titus, Paul calls the Lord “our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ” (2:13). He “gave Himself for us,” and thus redeems and purifies “a people for His own possession” (2:14).
These statements are important because they reveal the unique position the church now has with its Savior that spares it from the coming wrath.
Words of Grace for Strength
Today the subject of the Pre-Tribulational Rapture of the church has come under fire from many directions. There are now those who deny the Rapture altogether, those who support a Post-Trib Rapture, a Mid-Trib Rapture, and the latest variation is a teaching suggesting a Pre-Wrath Rapture in which the church will endure Satan’s wrath but not the Wrath of God.
I agree that the purpose for the Rapture is to keep the Church from the Wrath of God. Paul tells us this very thing in 1 Thessalonians 5:9; “For God did not appoint us to wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ,” however a distinction between the wrath of Satan and the Wrath of God during the Tribulation is tenuous at best. A true understanding of the Tribulation period places every event of that time in the context of God’s purposes and God’s Wrath. Satan has no power except that granted by God. Therefore, any wrath meted out by Satan is in fact God’s as He accomplishes His purposes during the Tribulation.
What is God’s purpose for the time of Tribulation as He inflicts His Wrath upon the world? I believe there are four things He intends to accomplish.
First, Satan will be given every opportunity, during the Tribulation, to make his rebellion succeed only to fail. Revelation 19 describes the defeat of Satan’s army and the destruction of the Beast (Antichrist) and his false prophet, and chapter 20 describes Satan being bound and cast into the pit. Thus, God will use Satan to accomplish His own purposes. The depravity and sin nature of man will be seen through these last rebellious events, leaving no doubt that without the redemptive blessings through Christ, all would be lost for no man resists sin without salvation through Jesus.
The second purpose of God during the Tribulation is to bring Israel into a position of obedience and redemption. The scriptures teach us that God will use this time to bring His chosen people to Faith in Jesus as their Messiah. God will use Satan, the Beast (Antichrist) and the wicked gentile nations to persecute and punish Israel for her unfaithfulness to God. Zechariah prophesied that during this time two-thirds of Israel will be destroyed; ‘“And it shall come to pass in all the land,” Says the LORD, “That two-thirds in it shall be cut off and die,”’ (Zechariah 13:8) but one-third will declare; “The Lord is my God” (Zechariah 13:9). With this having been accomplished the prophecy will be fulfilled; ‘“And so all Israel will be saved, as it is written: “THE DELIVERER WILL COME OUT OF ZION, AND HE WILL TURN AWAY UNGODLINESS FROM JACOB; FOR THIS IS MY COVENANT WITH THEM, WHEN I TAKE AWAY THEIR SINS.” (Romans 11:26&27) Notice when Paul says “all Israel will be saved” he is speaking of the believing remnant of one-third because the Scripture in Zechariah 3:8 has already acknowledged the two-thirds which are cut off and die. Israel, coming to terms with Jesus as Messiah, and as a result, coming to Messiah, brings the covenantal promises of God to the nation of Israel to their ultimate fulfillment.
The third purpose I see God accomplishing during the Tribulation is to punish the world and the gentile nations for their sins against God and His chosen people Israel. (Deuteronomy 30:7; Isaiah 13:9; Isaiah 24:19&20) This purpose is retribution for the unrepentant during this time, and has nothing to do with the Church. And we of the Church need to see our blessed position in Christ and give praise that we are kept from enduring this purpose of God in these end times events.
The fourth purpose of God during this time is to evangelize the world. This is prophesied by Jesus Himself in Matthew 24:14; “And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in all the world as a witness to all the nations, and then the end will come.” We see the fulfillment of this in Revelation 7:1-17 through the preaching of the 144,000 Jews, the Two Witnesses and Angel. We see occurring during these most terrible of times the very thing we ourselves are now commanded to do, during our daily times in our daily lives.
So, in conclusion, I do not find evidence of the Church in any of these events during the Tribulation. Let ume give one last common sense example. Since the Church is the bride of Christ, does it not make sense that Christ would protect His Bride from God’s Wrath? Realistically, what groom would beat his prospective bride before their wedding? It is my hope that this common sense evidence borne out by the Scripture should be enough to put this subject to rest. The Rapture is Pre-Tribulational… and imminent. Jesus is coming soon!