Dealing with Deceit – The Pre-Wrath Deception
By Bill Perkins
“Whenever he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own nature, for he is a liar and the father of lies” (John 8:44b).
I get letters and phone calls … One of the few downsides to my job here at Compass is that pretty much weekly I have someone new trying to convince me that the Rapture will somehow not happen at the end of the Church Age, but rather, happen sometime during the seven-year Tribulation period.
I get phone calls, letters, charts, tapes, books and videos all arguing the Mid-Trib Post-Trib or Pre-Wrath positions. These impassioned people are usually so convinced their position is correct, and that my position is wrong, they think I should spend hours on end listening to and debating them.
For the record, I think the book The Pre-wrath Rapture of the Church has caused the Body of Christ a great deal of pain and confusion. I think the author means well, but the book promotes, in my opinion, heresy.
I feel badly for people deceived by this teaching because I too was once deceivedinto believing the “Pre-Wrath” argument. When I was a new believer in the 1970s, I was taught by my well-meaning pastor that “Mid-Trib” Rapture was a fact, not a theory. He gave all the same arguments I hear today, usually centered in some shape, form or fashion around these two incorrect premises:
“We’re saved only from God’s wrath.”
“Pre-Wrathers” believe that “God’s wrath” comes only in the last 3.5 years of the tribulation–erroneously believing that the first 3.5 years are not actually “God’s wrath.”
That is, of course, ridiculous! The entire seven-year Tribulation period is called “The time of Jacob’s Trouble.” Good grief, in the first 3.5 years there’s worldwide economic collapse, famine and one-fourth of the earth dies…that sure sounds like “God’s wrath” to me!
“We need to prepare for the inevitable”:
“Pre-Wrathers believe they should plan for the worst-case scenario because if they’re wrong, they conclude it won’t matter. But if they’re right, they’ll be prepared.
This is a horrible way to live. Instead of living boldly for the Lord, knowing He is coming to take us home, the Pre-Wrathers worry about the Antichrist coming. One of the cornerstones of Bible prophecy doctrine is that we’re to keep our eyes looking up to heaven, to our future home, not down on this earth. We are to look for Jesus, not the Antichrist.
“Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth” (Colossians 3:2)
I eventually moved on from my first church, which also tended to border on legalism-common among Pre-Wrathers. And as I continued to read my Bible through the years, the more I could not scripturally defend the Mid-Trib position, or its close cousin, “Pre-Wrath.”
The Bible declares that the time before the Rapture would be JUST LIKE the days before Noah’s flood. And then Scripture lists the characteristics of that day that our day will be “just like.” It couldn’t be any clearer.
“For the coming of the Son of Man will be just like the days of Noah. For as in those days before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark, and they did not understand until the flood came and took them all away; so will the coming of the Son of Man be” (Matthew 24:37-39, emphasis added).
Before the flood it was “business as usual” with parties, food, building-until God shut the door, which is the symbolic equivalent of the Rapture. This biblical truth has to be patently ignored by those holding to a “Pre-Wrath” position.
To accept “Pre-Wrath” you have to say the first 3.5 years of the 70th Week of Daniel is no different than today. Really?
In the first 3.5 years of the Tribulation, Revelation 6 says the earth is inchaos, the worldwide economy collapses and inflation is so rampant it takes a day’s wage just to buy food. Not to mention all this causes 1/4 of the earth to die from war and wild beasts! Does that sound like Jesus’ description of the Days of Noah? Hardly!
The Inerrant Word of God:The biggest problem with anything but a Pre-Tribulational Rapture is that you have to abandon using biblical dispensations to interpret Scripture. This is the purest of all doctrines because it’s rooted in using a literal hermeneutic to interpret Scripture.
The Bible is meant to be read literally, in context. Jesus took the Old Testament literally when He talked about Adam and Eve, Noah’s Ark and Jonah being swallowed by the great fish. And all past prophecies were fulfilled literally, not figuratively. Therefore we should also take the Bible literally, in context. Applying dispensations gives us that context.
For instance, the Bible says four times that the millennial reign of Christ on earth lasts 1000 years (Rev. 20:4-7). That doesn’t mean the 1000 years is symbolic for a “long period of time.” It means what it says… it will last 1000 years. If you try to make it symbolic for a long period time, you’re injecting man’s sinfully tainted understanding into the interpretation.
The Bible also says that in the Millennium, the wolf and the lamb will lie in the grass together. Things will change and there will be no carnivorous instincts of animals (Isa. 11:6). This is another proof we’re NOT in the Millennium today. Yet the official doctrines of the Presbyterian, Lutheran, Church of Christ and Catholic denominations (and many others) promote that heresy.
God doesn’t change, but He certainly does change how He deals with people through the different ages or time periods throughout history.God never changes, he just changes how He deals with people on earth. You can’t argue that God didn’t change through time how He dealt with or will deal with people on the earth because He says so in Scripture:
1) Before and after the fall of mankind;
2) Before and after the Flood;
3) Before and after the Tower of Babel;
4) Before and after the Cross;
5) Before and after the Rapture;
6) Before and after the Second Coming;
7) Before and after the Great White Throne Judgment.
Therefore it is a FACT that God DOES change how He deals with people on the earth at different times through the ages. Dividing the Bible into biblical dispensations for context simply recognizes and applies this fact to scriptural interpretation. And it clears up so many seemingly conflicting Scriptures.
Paul refers to the current Church Age dispensation, as an “administration” and that was hidden to the Jews, but now revealed:
“…and to bring to light what is the administration of the mystery which for ages has been hidden in God who created all things” (Ephesians 3:9).
Properly understanding and applying how God views the different time periods, literally changed my life. Understanding dispensations allowed me to know when and where to apply every verse of scripture. Without properly applying dispensations to understand the context of what the Lord is saying in scripture, you’re a ship without a rudder.
“As a result, we are no longer to be children, tossed here and there by waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, by craftiness in deceitful scheming” ( Ephesians 4:14).
The “Church Age,” the dispensation in which we live, only began after Jesus’ death and resurrection. It began when the Holy Spirit came to earth and the Church Age will end at time of the Rapture.
I think it’s better to think of the gospels as being the end of the Old Testament rather than the beginning of the New Testament. Only then can you fully appreciate the incredible Church Age characteristics. It’s a special time on God’s timeline unlike any other. As Peter said:
“…just as also our beloved brother Paul, according to the wisdom given him, wrote to you, as also in all his letters, speaking in them of these things, in which are some things hard to understand, which the untaught and unstable distort, as they do also the rest of the Scriptures, to their own destruction” (2 Peter 3:15-16).
One key characteristic of dispensational theology is that the dispensational time periods can’t overlap. A dispensation, by definition, must end before the next time dispensation can begin on God’s calendar.
But the Pre-Wrath view has the Church Age crossing over into the Tribulation, into a new dispensation. That’s absurd! You can’t have two dispensations going on concurrently. But the biggest downside to the “Pre-Wrath” theory is that it robs believers of the joy and expectation of the coming Rapture. The end of the Church Age is something to look forward to, not fear. We are to look for Jesus Christ, not the Antichrist!
“… let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith” (Hebrews 12:1-2).
And lastly, here’s one more problem with pre-wrath that is laughable. The “pre-wrath” Rapture view says that we, the bride of Christ, will go through the first 3.5 years of Tribulation, meaning, we’ll be severely persecuted before our wedding day with the Lord.
Really? Do you actually believe the Lord will unload on the Church-the bride of Christ, death and destruction, tearing us apart limb from limb, just before He marries us? Oh good grief! Not much to look forward to there!
No, we, the “bride of Christ,” are to look forward to our marriage to the God of Love.
“Let us rejoice and be glad and give the glory to Him, for the marriage of the Lamb has come and His bride has made herself ready” (Rev. 19:7).
These are just a few of the problems with the “pre-wrath” theory. There are many more-too many to write about.