Why Can’t the Rapture Be Post-Trib?
By Dave Hunt And T.A. McMahon
Tom: You’re listening to Search the Scriptures Daily, a program in which we encourage everyone who desires to know God’s truth to look to God’s Word for all that is essential for salvation and living one’s life in a way that is pleasing to Him.
If you’re a new listener to our program, we have, for a number of weeks now, we’ve been discussing Dave Hunt’s book, When Will Jesus Come? Compelling Evidence for the Soon Return of Christ.
Dave, for the last couple of weeks we’ve been giving reasons why the church must be removed. And I’m sure many of our listeners, or at least some of our listeners—the church being removed? I know when I came to Christ as a new believer, the Rapture—coming out of Roman Catholicism, the Rapture was not a teaching that we had any idea about. I was clueless about it.
Dave: Well, the Catholic Church, of course, does not teach the Rapture. It wouldn’t work because of purgatory.
Dave: You have to spend different lengths of time in purgatory, so you couldn’t possibly resurrect everybody. The Rapture is a resurrection.
Dave: So how could you resurrect everyone at the same time?
Tom: And you go immediately to be with Christ.
Tom: So purgatory doesn’t work well with that belief.
Dave: Anyway, you’re talking about the church being removed from this earth before the Great Tribulation.
Tom: Correct. And that would be the beginning of the 70th week of Daniel.
And that’s the catalyst that starts it off, so that’s one of the reasons. Another reason is that the saints have to be in heaven to come with Christ at the Second Coming.
Dave: Right. Mm-hmm.
Tom: So it has to be the event that’s needed to bring the Antichrist immediately on the scene to institute the covenant of peace with Israel.
Dave: Yeah. Tom, we probably talked about this in-depth, but just very briefly, how are you going to unite the world under one man? Politically, religiously, all the world is going to worship this man. How are you going to bring that about? There is no possible way except the Rapture. If 100 million—I think it might be at least 100 million real Christians out of two billion professing Christians—if they suddenly vanished from this earth, we can’t imagine the terror that would be on this earth. And a man arises immediately with all the power of Satan, can do lying signs and wonders. He says, “I know where they went. Take my mark: that will be the pledge that you won’t leave.”
I don’t know the various scenarios; there would be a number of possibilities. But the fact is that the earth is terrified and they are all united. Muslims and Israelis, Baptists and Presbyterians, atheists and Christians, because there will be a lot of Christians left behind. So…
Tom: Well, Dave, why is that? I thought everybody who’s a Christian goes in the Rapture.
Dave: Maybe I was careless with my language. A lot of professing Christians, thank you. People who call themselves Christians who don’t really know the Lord. They call themselves Christians, but they have no intention of following the Bible, following what Jesus Christ said, either His example or His teaching. Therefore, they’re not Christians.
Tom: The Person preventing the Antichrist from rising, according to 2 Thessalonians 2, He must be taken out of the way. And of course that Person is the Holy Spirit who inhabits the church. And you can look to Ephesians 2:22 and 1 Corinthians 6:19 – the latter verse talks about us being the temple of the Holy Spirit, the believers.
Dave: Well, we went over that too, I guess, Tom. I guess we’ll give you a little review here. In John 7:37, it says, “On the last day, the great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried saying, If any man thirst, let him come unto me and drink, and out of his innermost being will flow rivers of living water.” And then John adds this commentary: “This spake he of the Holy Spirit which they that believed on him should receive, for the Holy Ghost was not yet given, because Jesus was not yet glorified.”
So although the Holy Spirit came upon the prophets and inspired them in the past, yet David prayed in Psalm 51, “Take not thy Holy Spirit from me.” Now, some churches sing that. Please don’t sing that if you’re a Christian; it’s not biblical. That was biblical for David because the Holy Spirit was not yet given because Jesus was not yet glorified, but now He indwells us. So…
Tom: Well, we’re sealed until the day of resurrection, so He cannot leave us.
Dave: Absolutely. So you can’t remove the Holy Spirit, because He is omnipresent. You can’t remove God. God is the only one who could keep Satan from putting his man in power, Antichrist. So…but you can’t remove God, you can’t remove the Holy Spirit. He’s God; He’s omnipresent. What is Paul talking about? He’s talking about, as you mentioned, Tom, the indwelling of the Holy Spirit in the church permanently—not to come and go, but we are sealed by Him. We belong to Him, and the church will have to be removed to remove that presence, that new presence of the Holy Spirit that is on this earth for the first time since the day of Pentecost.
Furthermore, the Scripture says that the Antichrist is given authority—that’s by Satan—to make war against the saints. Now, those are the tribulation saints who come to Christ during the Great Tribulation, because the gospel will be preached—and to overcome them. And anyone who does not bow down and worship his image is killed. Well, that would be the entire church. Jesus said the gates of hell could not prevail against the church. The church is the bride of Christ. He is not going to leave us to the tender mercies of Antichrist to wipe us all out. So that’s another reason why we must be removed.
Tom: Dave, you make another point that I never thought about, which seems reasonable to me. You say that the church, if it were left here when the Antichrist appears, they would actively oppose him. Now, that would throw a wrench in the works of his really bringing everybody under his control right away, or those being so attracted to him because of the event and the solutions that he brings and so on, if you’ve got a prominent, active opposition to him on the earth.
Dave: Backed by the Holy Spirit. He’s not going to make it, but of course that must be removed before he can be revealed.
Tom: Well, you pointed out that—let’s say conservatively if there are 100 million Christians removed from the earth, if they were here, that would be a pretty large opposition to him.
Tom: The Antichrist, as you point out, would destroy the church, and you quoted Matthew 16:18 — that’s another point. The only other way to protect the church is to allow Antichrist to kill all the saints is to remove the church, and these saints who come after the Rapture, they are going to be martyred. The Scripture is very clear on that.
Dave: They’ll pay for their faith with their lives.
Tom: Now, out of that, Dave, you make a point: a post-Trib Rapture then, based on what we have said, you say it would be a non-event.
Dave: Yeah, a classic non-event, because there’s nobody left to Rapture. It’s quite clear if you don’t take the mark of the beast you can’t buy or sell. Now you’re starving to death, eating out of garbage pails, if you could run fast enough to keep ahead of the world police who are on your tail. If you do not bow down and worship his image—of course, if you do either of those things the wrath of the Lamb comes upon you. So this would only be true believers who would not do that. You don’t bow down to worship his image, you are killed. It’s that simple.
Can he find you? I think he can find you anywhere. Because, Tom, I don’t want to try to get into the technology of the thing because we’re not sure of that, but we have the technology to trace everybody. And you get GPS in a car, you don’t have to tell Bambi where you are; you just punch in there where you want to go and immediately the voice tells you, “Start off in this direction,” or that. And if you get off the road, Bambi, or whoever this voice is (it’s usually a woman’s voice), gets rather excited: “You’re off the road! You’re off the road!” Or if you are on a new road that wasn’t on the map that she had when they programmed her in…
So Antichrist can know right where you are if you have this chip, and there’s no reason for not having the chip. It makes all the sense in the world, because no more counterfeiting, no dollar bills.
Tom: No more identification theft.
Dave: Right, no more muggings and robbing of people, burglarizing and so forth. I don’t think you could even burglarize. Who are you going to sell it to, the stuff? So everything is run through these chips. Wonderful! This would be an honest world, so well-organized, and so forth. But everywhere that chip goes they are watching you. You can’t hide from Antichrist. So if you follow Christ and disobey Antichrist, you are martyred. So what Christians are there left to Rapture at the end of the Great Tribulation? I sometimes facetiously compare this with Titus 2:13: “Looking for that blessed hope and the glorious returning of the great God our Savior Jesus Christ. Well, here’s the blessed hope for a post-Trib Rapture. Well, if you can eat out of enough garbage pails and run fast enough to keep ahead of the Antichrist, and you are one of the very few that the world police haven’t caught for not bowing down and worshipping that image, and you survive to the end of the Great Tribulation, blessed hope! You’re going to get raptured! I don’t call that a blessed hope, Tom. I’m not trying to make fun of these dear people that believe that, but it doesn’t make any sense.
And another reason that we talked about—Paul said in 2 Timothy 4, he said, “There’s a crown of righteousness laid up for me, and not for me only, but for all those who love His appearing.” Now, if you love His appearing at the end, you’re one of the few who survived the murderous intent of the world police who have been after you, and you would love Christ’s appearing at that point, I don’t think that’s a reason for a special crown of righteousness. But if you love His appearing now—stock market’s going up…well, it goes down, too, but let’s say it’s really going up and you’re making a lot of money; you’ve got a good retirement plan, money in the bank, you’re going on vacation, maybe you’ve retired…everything seems fine. All the problems of the Middle East have been solved—wow! This world is really a wonderful place to be in. You love His appearing then, I think that’s what’s Paul is saying, there would be a special reward, a crown of righteousness.
Tom: Dave, related to all this, a post-Trib Rapture certainly eliminates the doctrine of imminency and how important that is. I know some who believe in a pre-Trib Rapture have been characterized by saying, “Oh, it’s kind of a helicopter theory. You just want to get out.” The antithesis of what you just said. “You just want to eliminate your problems and go on and be with the Lord.” But imminency doesn’t teach that. I mean, that’s not what the Scripture says. Jesus says, “If you love Me, keep my commandments.” We’re to occupy until He returns; we’re to be excited about His return, and we want to hear those words, “Well done, thou good and faithful servant.”
Dave: Well, we’re the bride, and hopefully the bride is excited about the wedding. If not, you’d better call it off. We should be eagerly awaiting our Lord to catch us up and take us up there, because there will be a wedding in heaven.
So imminency is a very important doctrine. If we went to Luke 17 or Matthew 24, in both places Christ says that to imagine a delay in His coming…well, 1 John 3 says, “Everyone who has this hope in Him purifies himself.” If Christ could come at any moment, I don’t want to be doing something that would bring dishonor to Him. That would be an embarrassment. John says in 1 John 2 that we “not be ashamed before Him at His coming.” But I’m not worrying about being ashamed before Him at His coming if He can’t come until after the Antichrist gets here. Antichrist is now there, so when Antichrist shows up, then I can clean up my act. The post-Trib Rapture, as you said, does away with imminency, and that is very important because I have time left. But Jesus said, “But and if that wicked servant says in his heart, My lord delays his coming, and he begins to mistreat his fellow servants and so forth, the Lord will come at a time when he thinks not.”
So Jesus indicated that the thought of a delay in His coming—in other words, a rejection of imminency—Jesus said that would breed evil in the heart. So this is another powerful reason. And of course the church, the early church, was taught imminency.
Tom: Well, that’s a question, Dave, and your chapter 16 is titled, “A Post-Trib Scenario.” You quote (1 Thessalonians 5:2-6): “For yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so cometh as a thief in the night. For when they shall say, Peace and safety; then sudden destruction cometh upon them, as travail upon a woman with child; and they shall not escape. But ye, brethren, are not in darkness, that that day should overtake you as a thief. Ye are all the children of light, and the children of the day… Therefore let us not sleep, as do others; but let us watch and be sober.”
Now, Dave, you follow that with this statement: “One frequently hears the argument: ‘There is no record that the early church believed in the imminent return of Christ. The idea of a pre-tribulation Rapture wasn’t dreamed up until the 1830s.’”
Dave: Well, Tom, I never learned the pre-Trib Rapture from some commentary. I got it from the Bible.
Tom: Many people say Darby was the first one.
Dave: Right, and that’s not true. There were plenty of believers in the pre-Trib Rapture before in the 1700s, in the 1600s, etc., and that could be documented. But that, I think, is beside the point. The point is what does the Bible say? You see, Tom, we’ve talked about it, I guess, in the past: there are some bright young men who claim to be evangelicals who have converted to Roman Catholicism. Why? Because they began to read the early church fathers, so-called, and they said, “Oh, these guys believed in the real presence…you know, they believed in Catholic doctrines. Well, if you want to understand what the apostles taught, get back as close as you can to when they wrote the Scriptures and those who knew them,” etc. And, Tom, that argument does not hold any water at all. It’s a very bad argument, because Paul in Acts 20 said to the Ephesian elders, “After my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock. And of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things to draw away disciples after them.” So if the very men that he trained, the Ephesian elders—and that was the best church, as far as we can tell, that was active at that time—if they were going to go astray, I’m not impressed by somebody a hundred years later…that’s about as close back as you can get. No, what does the Bible say?
All right, the Bible says, Philippians 3:20: “…our conversation (that means our manner of life) is in heaven; from whence also we look for the Savior, the Lord Jesus: Who shall change our vile body,” etc.
In 1 Thessalonians 1:10-11, somewhere around there, Paul writes to the Thessalonians, “You turned to God from idols to serve the living and the true God, and to wait for his Son from heaven.” Okay?
So in Philippians, Paul says, “You’re looking, expecting…” Now they’re waiting. In Hebrews 9, around verse 27-28, it says, “Unto them that look for him shall he appear the second time without sin unto salvation.”
We quoted Titus 2:13, “looking for that blessed hope, the glorious appearing.” What? We’re supposed to watch, Jesus said. In Luke 12, “watch for the Lord when He returns.” So now, if you’re supposed to be watching and waiting and looking and expecting, it doesn’t make sense if this can’t happen until after the Antichrist, after the Great Tribulation. It could only be something that could happen at any moment.
So again, this is imminency. There are many signs to be fulfilled before the Second Coming—no signs at all before the Rapture. Nothing prevents Christ from coming at any moment or ever prevented Him from coming at any moment to catch up His bride into heaven for that wedding. And, of course, before that comes the Judgment Seat of Christ. The Judgment Seat of Christ, of course, is for believers, where it says we will receive for the deeds done in the body, 1 Corinthians 3. Our works will be tried by fire, not to see whether we’re saved or lost, but that will determine our reward.
Now, this must be distinguished from the Great White Throne Judgment in Revelation 20: “I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God. The books were opened,” etc. “I saw a great white throne whereon sat…” This is Christ, and it says, “from whose face the earth and the heavens fled away.”
So we must distinguish between these two. The Judgment Seat of Christ is when the believers will be purified, clothed in white robes, the righteousness of saints, to be wed to Christ at that marriage in Revelation 19.
Program Number: 2007