by Michael K. Lake, Th.D.
It does not take a prophet with keen discernment to realize that the Church of the Living God is being attacked on every side. This onslaught of the enemy is on many fronts. We have progressive/socialistic agendas pressing the Church from without. We also see from within the abandonment of key principle doctrines and the desire of the younger generation to run after questionable music masquerading as praise and worship, tattoos (which are forbidden by scripture), and social trends, fads, and pressures, which mold their biblical worldview. There are times that I sit in complete dismay at the changes that have occurred in the Church – just in the last ten years. It now seems that much of the Church is more worried about what the world thinks of them than they are the Savior who died and rose again to redeem them.
This past week, my wife was listening to very popular minister teaching on the Pretribulation Rapture on his weekly satellite broadcast. He shared how individuals in the Body of Christ were writing him and calling him a “heretic” because he was teaching on the Pretribulation Rapture. Now this man is a wonderful and anointed minister of the Gospel . (Not only have I listened to his ministry for years, but I have good friends who grew up with him.) We need to understand that there is no excuse for such name calling in the Body of Christ. As I heard Mary describe the hurt in his voice, I heard the Holy Spirit say:
“The Church today is like a family of spoiled children that spend most of their time arguing about the ‘exact time’ when Daddy is supposed to arrive home instead of getting their chores done before he gets there.”
I would have to say “amen” to that!
The Pretribulation Rapture View is Not the Only View
Growing up in the Baptist Church (both Southern Baptist and Missionary Baptist), I thought that the only eschatological view was the Premillennial Pretribulational View. This was the view held in those circles, as well as among many in the Charismatic Movement. I remember as a teenager looking through the Chick tract entitled “The Beast” with the dispensational charting of the Premillennial Pretribulational View laid out in a cartoon format. I thought that, at the ripe age of 14, I had all of the end time events down to a fine art. Over the years, I have heard ministers refer to those that did not hold that particular view as heretics, as if determining the exact timing of the Lord’s return was a part of orthodoxy. This kind of rhetoric from one’s camp can come back to bite you, even if you were not the one who spoke it. (I have never heard the minister that I referred to earlier ever call anyone a heretic.)
It was only after I was in seminary that I was exposed to other views.
The Word tells us:
1 John 3:2-3 (NKJV)
2 Beloved, now we are children of God; and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is. 3 And everyone who has this hope in Him purifies himself, just as He is pure.
With prophecy, we are looking through a glass darkly (I Cor. 13:12). We forget that, prior to 1948, the majority of the Evangelical Church taught that Israel would never become a country again. With over a thousand years of teaching that the Church replaced Israel, there was no way that this could ever happen. As ministers in the early 1930’s and 40’s began proclaiming the resurrection of Israel, they were marked as “heretics” by the mainstay of Evangelical prophecy teachers in the Body of Christ. Needless to say, in 1948 the alleged heretics were proven correct, and the teachers on the forefront were proven wrong. After Israel became a nation, they had to edit and reprint much of their writings. We need to learn from that lesson and realize that the glass still may be a little dark regarding the timing of His return. Let’s look at the various eschatological positions on the timing of the return of the Lord:
Various Eschatological View of the Lord’s Return
|Premillennial Pretribulational View||All believers are raptured out before the Great Tribulation. Tribulation and Millennium are literal 7-year and 1,000-year periods. Israel & Church are separate programs.|
|Premillennial Posttribulational View||All believers are raptured at the end of the Great Tribulation Period. The Rapture and the Second Coming are the same event. Tribulation and Millennium are literal 7-year and 1,000-year periods. Israel & Church are separate programs.|
|Premillennial Midtribulational View||All believers are raptured after 42 months (1,260 days) of the 7-year tribulation period. Tribulation and Millennium are literal 7-year and 1,000-year periods. Israel & Church are separate programs.|
|Premillennial Pretribulational Partial Rapture View||Only some Christians will be raptured before the Great Tribulation. Those “unready” must be martyred to verify their faith. The Rapture and the Second Coming are separate events. Tribulation and Millennium are literal 7-year and 1,000-year periods. Israel & Church are separate programs.|
|Premillennial Prewrath Rapture View||All believers are raptured during the Great Tribulation, but prior to the “Day of God’s Wrath” (Rev 6:17). The Rapture and the Second Coming are separate events. Tribulation and Millennium are literal 7-year and 1,000-year periods.|
|Evangelical Postmillennial View||The Tribulation is age-long, not seven years. The Millennium is a literal 1,000-year reign of Christ, realized through the Church’s ministry of the Kingdom of God.|
|Augustine’s Amillennial View||The Book of Revelation is symbolic of God’s Kingdom’s triumphing through the Church. The Great Tribulation and the Millennium are not 7-year and 1,000-year periods, but are symbolic terms for the age-long struggle of evil against Christ’s rule.|
|And there are others|
Orthodoxy, in my opinion, should be looking for the literal return of Jesus as Messiah ben Joseph (the Conquering King), as well as looking forward to His literal Millennial Reign. This lines up with the whole of scripture and is in perfect harmony with a proper understanding of the Feasts of the LORD.
If we would spend as much time “getting our chores done” as we are fighting about the exact timing of His return, we could make such a difference in the world. Jesus is going to come back exactly when He is supposed to, regardless of how powerfully we argue our viewpoint as to its timing.
Finally, I am reminded of the wisdom of the late Dr. Walter Martin. One of our professors, Dr. Bruce Booker, had the privilege of attending a course taught by this great man of God. There were many in the class that worked feverishly to pin Dr. Martin down to the Premillennial Pretribulational View. I love his response:
“I always pray for a Pretribulation Rapture and prepare for a Posttribulation one.”
I believe that Dr. Martin believed it was better to be surprised by Rapture instead of Tribulation. There is always wisdom in preparation.
We need to spend our time preparing ourselves for His return: spiritually, mentally, and even physically. What is the worst that could happen if we are prepared physically to go through a portion of the Tribulation, only to be surprised by Rapture? We would leave supplies for the saints that manifest during those troubled times. Nowhere in the Word does it tell us that we will be left behind if we do not “guess” the exact timing of His coming. We are only commanded to “look” for His return.
In our next article, we will take a close look at the Laodicean Church and one possible reason why the Church is not readily seen in the Book of Revelation after Chapter Three.
© Copyright 2010 by Michael K. Lake, Th.D.
All Rights Reserved
 Taken from “Dealing with “Last Things” – The Rapture, Second Coming, and Millennium” from the Spirit-Filled Life Study Bible. Thomas Nelson Publishers, Nashville, TN © Copyright 1991. Pages 1948-1951.