Many people propose the doctrine that the Church of Jesus Christ will be removed from this world during a time which has become to be popularly known as the "Great Tribulation". This doctrine has a very sympathetic following of people for very obvious reasons. Who wants to go through Great Tribulation? It can be easily understood that the church of North America has "Americanized" the Bible into all sorts of unbiblical ideas and doctrines, fitting North America's ideas of Christianity into it all, where religious persecution against the general Church is simply non-existent as it is in foreign soil.
I do want to stress that it does not affect our salvation should we believe in a particular interpretation of when the Church will leave this world. (And the people who think it does affect our salvation had better take another look at Acts 2:38 and find where anything contrary to my words is contained in the plan of salvation!). We should not cause division over such an issue, neither should we hold a bad attitude against those who may disagree with us. We can fellowship as Apostolics so long as we hold the Apostolic doctrine of salvation, doctrine of the oneness of the Godhead, strive to live holy lives, pressing onward to Christ's image from glory to glory, endeavouring to live a life unspotted from the world, learning to live more and more in dependence for holiness upon the strength of God's empowering Holy Spirit, seek to continue to grow deeper and deeper in the Lord and open to revelations from His word, and purge out the old leaven to be filled with the flow of God's Spirit to the utmost!
Personally, I strongly believe that the "pre-tribulation rapture" teaching is dangerous, since it encourages people to sit and expect deliverance from this world should any severe trouble come our way. And that is not good. But so long as we stay in victory in Christ we will be ready whether tribulation comes our way or not! Victory in Jesus keeps us safe either way!
I propose the teaching that I call Kingdom Eschatology, teaching that the Great Tribulation is a thing of the past and will not come in our future. However, the idea of a rapture after tribulation -- "Post Tribulation Rapture" -- fits quote nicely with this interpretation, since the rapture must occur after tribulation if the tribulation has already occurred long ago! Of course the Post-Tribulation people err in their thinking that there will be a future period of Great Tribulation.
The Bible teaches most plainly that tribulation is common to the child of God. In fact, "great tribulation" is merely increased tribulation, and Jesus' reference to great tribulation such as never was nor shall be points to the years culminating in 70 AD with the destruction of Jerusalem. We will show proof which indicates that the idea of a pre-tribulational rapture is simply erroneous and untrue.
Let us say, for the sake of argument, that the popular idea of a future tribulation period of either 7 or 3.5 years is correct, which I deny. According to that thought the whole book of Revelation deals with a period commonly said to be known as the "Great Tribulation." That is the reason that many say the church is not in this world after such and such a chapter in the Book of Revelation. They feel that the great portion of the book of Revelation refers to the time when "the" Great Tribulation occurs, therefore the Church will not be present in the earth.
So let us see the references to "tribulation" in chapter one. This will prove to be illuminating to all references to tribulation in Revelation, since the principle of "first mention" in the Bible concerning an issue tells the tale as to how we should interpret all following references to the pertinent issue.
Speaking of chapter 1, there is an interesting note that John introduces the book in chapter one with inclusion of the following words:
That should cause a pretribulationist to look awfully suspicious at their doctrine. Revelation, a book written about a tribulation period in which the church is not supposed to be here, begins by chatting about John, a member of the Church, who is companion to those in tribulation who hold God's Word and the testimony of Jesus Christ.
Notice something we can correctly conclude from Rev 1:9. Whenever the twin thoughts of persecution for the "word" and the "testimony" of Jesus Christ are mentioned, it applies quite adequately to the Church member, with whom John was companion in. It cannot involve future people only and apart from christians like John, since John just said he was "our companion" in it, and that was 2000 years ago!!! You must include a guy who lived 2000 years ago with the gang who are mentioned to be holding the Word and testimony of Jesus.
Was that the "Great Tribulation" John experienced? Not according to many. That day cannot start until the Church, of which John was a part, is gone, they say.
So, lets look at other references supposed to be in the time of Great Tribulation according to popular prophecy teachers.
(Noticing little things like this reveals much!!)
Right in the middle of discussion about the Beast in Revelation 13, John writes:
John repeats the thought of the words of Rev 1:9 and applies them to believers' troubles all through Revelation. And do not forget that John said he was our "companion" in such things.
(Someone once said that John represents the church and therefore the church is raptured before tribulation because John was caught up at the sound of a trumpet in Rev 4:1. I can more biblically use the same argument of John representing the Church by saying that he was the companion of all who suffer tribulation and manifest Jesus' patience who hold the testimony and word of God throughout Revelation and well into what you would call Great Tribulation. Watch:)
What does Rev 13:10 mean? It means that at that time (when the beast arises) the faith of the saints and the patience of the saints will be required. John was our companion in the patience of Jesus Christ.
In both Rev 13 and 14, it seems John is giving us a hint about how to survive the tribulation as a christian. He is saying, "Then will be the time you believers better exert your faith and patience in Jesus. You are going to need it then more than ever!" (Read those verses again with Rev. 1:9).
Recall that Rev 1:9 mentioned "the WORD of God and the TESTIMONY of Jesus Christ." This is repeated by saying "who keep the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus" in Rev 14:12.
Even in the epistles these terms
are used for the Church:
"Patience and faith" in "TRIBULATIONS". Enlightening is it not? The same was said of John in Rev. 1:9 when he said he was the believer's companion in such things, and that was 2000 years before the so-called great tribulation period, about which is supposed to written throughout Revelation, in the middle of which saints are said to have experienced the faith and patience of Jesus!!!
This thought even shows up in
popular opinion concerning Revelation's reference to a certain 3.5 years
when the church is not supposed to be here:
Same chapter ends by saying...
How could John be a companion in the same type of tribulation that "tribulation saints" will be part of when no member of the Church will have anything to do with anything like "the great tribulation"?
Quite a few parallels with "tribulation" saints and the church!!
Let me end by asking if Israel was around when Egypt suffered the plagues that are so similar to the Revelation plagues?
Was Israel "exited" from Egypt BEFORE these things occurred?
Did God protect His people?
Why worry about tribulation? We will not suffer God's wrath but we will suffer Satan's tribulation as we do everyday.