Why all the Fuss about the Pretribulation Rapture?
By Jonathan C. Brentner
A key problem in the church today consists of its silence on the rapture, which often comes from its adherence to false beliefs generated by amillennialism or an unwillingness to talk about it. As a result, no one stresses the glorious transformation that will we will experience when Jesus comes for us.
I recently attended a church until I heard the rapture mocked from the pulpit by an assistant pastor and learned that the teaching pastor attributed the biblical promises of a restored Israel to allegory. These pastors pushed Jesus’ return to the far distant future, at the end of the age, and failed to teach the saints about the “blessed hope” when eternity will become a reality.
Without the pretribulation rapture, where is the hope for troubled souls and wounded hearts? If the church is headed for a part of tribulation or God forbid all of it, then our immediate anticipation is more likely death rather than the wholeness and healing Jesus will give to us when he appears.
Those who falsely attribute God’s promises of restoration for Israel to allegory rarely if ever talk about Jesus’ promises of restoration for us as New Testament saints. Those who refuse to preach about the rapture in effect deny the hearing of this precious hope to those sitting in the pews or at home listening online. They make death the expectation of the saints rather than Jesus’ glorious appearing.
I am not saying that everyone reading this will live until the rapture (although it’s closer than we can imagine), but our blessed hope signifies that we live in anticipation of that glorious day when Jesus gives all those in Christ a glorious imperishable body, grants us an inner wholeness that we can now only dream about, and completes our adoption into God’s family so that it becomes a joyous experience for all of us.
Paul wrote about this rapture hope in Romans 8:23-25, “And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. For in this hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.”
This is the “blessed hope” of Titus 2:13. Our expectation is not the wrath of God that will be poured out during the day of the Lord or the seven year tribulation. Dying side by side with the Christ-rejecting world experiencing God’s horrendous judgments is most assuredly NOT our “blessed hope.” No, no, no! Our imminent expectation consists of seeing Jesus face to face and that moment is rapidly approaching.
A Glorious New Body
When Jesus comes to take us home to heaven, we will receive immortal and imperishable bodies. Does this not lift our eyes upward during the many difficulties here below? The apostle Paul assured the saints in Philippi concerning this glorious expectation, “But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the power that enables him even to subject all things to himself” (Phil. 3:20-21).
The apostle says our future bodies will be just like Jesus’ glorious resurrection body. Wow! We will possess physical, resurrected bodies in which we will reign with Christ forever. This is our future Gospel hope that remains hidden in most churches today either because of false doctrines pertaining to the millennium or by pastors unwilling to stir up controversy by mentioning the word “rapture” from the pulpit.
In 1 Corinthians 15:52b-53 we find additional details of our glorious and wonderful Gospel hope, “For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed. For this perishable body must put on the imperishable, and this mortal body must put on immortality.” Through the apostle Paul, the Lord promises that his followers will receive immortal physical bodies when Jesus returns for us (AKA the rapture).
If we are alive at the time of his appearing, Jesus will instantly transform our aging and achy bodies into immortal physical bodies just like his. If we die before that, he will bring our dead bodies to life again never again to be subject to the illnesses of this life, aging, or death.
Either way, we will not miss out on the rapture, our wonderful new bodies, or our quick trip through the clouds to the amazing and wonderful place Jesus is now preparing for us in his Father’s house (John 14:2-3).
I love these words from Randy Alcorn in his book, Heaven: “Inside your body, even if it is failing, is the blueprint for your resurrection body. You may not be satisfied with your current body or mind—but you’ll be thrilled with your resurrection upgrades. With them you’ll be better able to serve and glorify God and enjoy an eternity of wonders he has prepared for you.”
This exchange of our dying or dead bodies for resurrected ones will be like swapping an old rusted out Ford Pinto held together with duct tape for a brand new shiny red Porsche Carrera. However, our new bodies will never deteriorate, grow old, or wear out as even the best-built and most expensive cars will do over a long enough period of time.
Our new bodies will remain forever immune to all sickness and disease! This signifies the end of all doctor and dentist appointments for us. Aches, pains, physical suffering, and aging will all be relics from our distant past. What a glorious reality to contemplate! Does this hope not brighten our days as we watch for Jesus to appear?
Glorious Inner Wholeness
In his book All Things New, John Eldredge adds this about our future experience in glorified bodies, “We are all traumatized and fragmented; no one passes through this vale of tears without it. And our Healer will make us whole again…Think of it—to be whole hearted. To be filled with goodness from head to toe. To have an inner glory that matches the glory of your new body…”
I previously shared my story of the Lord’s healing of the deep wounds of my past and how the Lord enabled me to overcome PTSD. Although he wonderfully restored my life in miraculous ways, the trauma and fragmentation of which Eldredge spoke remains a reality for me.
Although I have experienced wonderful and dramatic healing during the past decade, I still yearn for the total inner wholeness about which John Eldredge writes. I long for the increased sharpness of mind, emotional healing, and Jesus’ deliverance of me from the presence of sin that will be mine in eternity.
I ache for life promised to me after “this vale of tears.” This will be our reality when Jesus bursts through the clouds to carry us back to the place he has prepared for in his Father’s house in heaven (John 14:2-3).
Do you understand why I so vigorously defend premillennialism and the pretribulation rapture? These are not meaningless arguments without relevance to our daily lives as we deal with COVID-19, verbal abuse or worse, financial woes, betrayals, shattered dreams, and growing anxieties.
No, it’s the promise of Jesus’ imminent appearing that enables to face frightful days and sleepless tear-filled nights with hope of a glorious day ahead for us front and center in our hearts and minds.
Talk of a distant resurrection from dead with an undefined existence in eternity does not comfort our hearts nor provide any lasting hope after the sermon ends and we continue to face lives in turmoil. No, it’s our hope of what will happen at the rapture that helps us get up the following day to face a chaotic world and endure the hardships of this “vale of tears” as John Eldredge so aptly describes it!
The rejection of the rapture or the lack of courage to talk about it has led to a dearth of hope in the church today. If our immediate hope is death either by natural causes or through the Lord’s wrath during the tribulation, is it any wonder why anxiety remains such a significant problem among believers? I cannot imagine life apart from a hope in Jesus’ imminent appearing. I would be pulling out my hair!!
That’s why I will continue to defend the pretribulation rapture regardless of the mocking and scorn I continually receive as the result of my stand.
It’s not that I do not respect other believers with differing opinions, but my confidence in the pretribulation rapture has come as the result of thousands of hours of study over the course of five decades and I cannot take any other position than that of supporting and defending the pretribulation rapture.
It’s precisely this hope in Jesus’ imminent appearing alone draws our focus to our Redeemer, which is sorely needed in the church today.
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