To be frank, I had no idea how marginalized an individual in the premillennial evangelical community would be if he publically abandoned support for the pretrib rapture position. If gifted enough to speak at their Bible conferences, teach in their colleges, preach in their churches, and write for their publications – then you are a rare breed indeed! The skills demonstrated to interpret the Scriptures are celebrated, honored, and rewarded as long as they are used to support their long-held positions.
Yet, with all that capability, the minute one disagrees with them regarding a particular point of view that is cherished among the highest convictions of the pretribulationism camp; it is as if you have fallen off the earth as far as they are concerned. Now please understand, I am not complaining. I am merely stating the facts. For those who truly walk with the Lord, as old doors close, he stands ready to open new ones. I am living proof of that.
Having paid a great price to support the PreWrath rapture position, I have no regrets. The attitudes and behaviors of those who oppose the PreWrath position are not new nor are they surprising. However, what is causing me no little concern is the behavior of those who support the PreWrath position. While I am the first to admit that more intense study of the Scriptures is required and that any saint can find new insights that are yet to be found in the Scriptures regarding the PreWrath interpretation of the Bible, a word of rebuke and caution is necessary!
With the advent of the Internet, self-publishing, and social media, it is becoming much too easy for any Matthew, Mark, Tom, Dick, or Louise to introduce his or her insights concerning the Scriptures. Naïve, inane, simplistic, or just plain ignorant opinions abound. The idea that anybody can interpret the Bible flourishes with the young and naïve because they fail to recognize that the prophetic Scriptures require mature skills to get it right. A lack of maturity is seemingly little deterrent for these individuals to write and speak about issues about which they would do better to remain silent.
I recently witnessed a classic example of mishandling God’s Word: One person says that Paul wrote First Corinthians before John wrote the Revelation about Jesus Christ, so when Paul speaks of the “last trump”, he could not have been referring to the seventh trumpet, i.e., Paul did not know there was going to be a “last trump.” The other individual retorts that since the Paul’s “last trump” and John’s seventh trumpet of Revelation refer to the same event, therefore, the rapture will occur after the seventh trumpet of Revelation is blown. Neither position is true nor does either evidence an adequate understanding of biblical interpretation or exegetical skill in handling the biblical text.
While many want to get in on biblical interpretation, few want to get in on biblical application. I am personally convinced that the implication (notice the singular focus) of the PreWrath position is faith. If one truly believes that this generation or a future generation of God’s elect will face the persecution of Satan and his Antichrist, then it appears to me that such a person would have one primary compelling motivation—to develop his or her faith.
I have yet to meet an American with faith sufficient to stare down Satan and his Antichrist, that is, an American that is so convinced of his or her position in Christ and the authority given to kingdom saints that he or she will resist the devil – knowing that he will flee! While no believer should jump for joy that his country appears to be going to “hell in a handbasket”, equally, no believer should be so worried that he or she is unable to contemplate life without the security of “welfare”, “social security”, “health insurance”, or all the other so-called entitlements or safeguards the world has convinced us that we require to survive the unknown future.
Modern life, as we know it, is an illusion built on debt. There is a very real possibility that we are going to experience a political collapse in this country that is unparalleled in recent history. Millions upon millions will have no remedy. No city, county, state, or national government will have the wherewithal to do very much for its citizens. Personal debt, lack of savings, and obsession with pleasure has produced the perfect storm. Untold millions have nothing to fall back on. Sadly, many of these claim to be Christians. They have nothing to fall back on – including God.
The problem, to be sure, is not with God. He remains faithful to us. The problem lies with us. We treat him like a lucky charm. We only pray and are serious about seeking him when we are in trouble. The few prayers we pray are filled with “gimme-gimme”. In truth, we really do not know him, and thus, our trust is small. Beyond the few explicit statements in Scripture, we do not know his will. We do not know what he will do or what he will not do. Thus, we do not ask.
Rather than the constant barrage of ill-gotten juvenile insights gleaned from the surface of biblical passages based on similarities, innuendo, illegitimate totality transfers, and a whole host of other poor methods of Bible study, we should focus on praying for each other in sackcloth and ashes; encouraging one another to develop his or her faith in the Lord Jesus and his word; and rebuking each other for foolish speculations. There are far too many attempts at interpretation and far too few serious attempts at application!
The overwhelming majority of books written on the PreWrath rapture position are not worth your money. You are learning very little, but exposing yourself to error, “juke-truth,” and fodder for endless speculation and squabbles. At the end of this process, most will improve very little in the serious “followship” of Christ. Personal holiness will remain a slight “tick” on the scales of God’s divine pleasure.
My friends, we need to get serious about developing our faith so that the power of God will be on constant display in our daily lives. This is the only way you will be ready to face the “time of distress” that is about to come upon this world.
Otherwise, John 2:28 is potentially your future. John writes, “Little children, abide in him, so that when he appears we may have confidence and not shrink from him in shame at his coming.” Wow! What a powerful verse! “Not shrink from in shame” in the Greek is literally, “to be disgraced.” Failure to stand before Satan and his Antichrist will result in disgrace before the Lord Jesus. Many will seek to hide until the danger is past. Others will attempt to fight under the illusion that it will be a fair fight. The only possible way of surviving is to stand in faith, in the power of God, and in God’s will.
It is unimaginable to think that after waiting for the Lord’s return for more than 2000 years, those privileged to see him descend on the clouds will want to run away rather than run to meet him. This is a very real prospect if you are not serious about your “followship” of Christ now! Grow up my friends! Grow up your faith in Jesus! It is the only way to smile at his appearing.
Please understand. I am not advocating that only the most scholarly can discover biblical truth. However, if you want to teach the meaning of biblical prophecy, please get some training in the proper methods of biblical interpretation. Otherwise, you do more harm to PreWrath than good.
Charles Cooper, PRI