The Rapture of the Church
     End Time Overcomers
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The Rapture of the Church will happen!!
Although the word "rapture" is nowhere to be found in the Bible, it has come to mean the time when the church is taken off the earth to "meet the Lord in the air."  It will include the "dead in Christ" and those who are "alive and remain."  All those who believe in Christ - and are obedient to him - will be "caught up together" and will be lifted up at that time (See I Thess. 4:16-17).

There are four basic beliefs about when the rapture will happen.  They all relate to a period of seven last years, usually called the "tribulation," that will take place in the time of the end. 

Those four beliefs are:
The Pre-tribulation belief is that the rapture will take place before the tribulation; that the church will be with the Lord for seven last years; and will return with him when it's over.
The Mid-tribulation belief is that the rapture will take place in the middle of the tribulation; that the church will be with the Lord for the last 3 1/2 years, and then return with him.
The Pre-wrath belief which sees the rapture and the return of the Lord as one event sometime in the second half of the tribulation immediately followed by a "shortened" time of Great Tribulation.
The Post-tribulation belief is that the rapture will take place at the end of the tribulation; that the church will be caught up to meet Jesus as he descends from heaven.  They believe there is only one coming of the Lord: that the rapture and the return are one event.  Therefore, the church will be on earth through the tribulation; and God will protect them as he pours out his wrath on the unbelievers.

    We believe that a close reading of the Bible shows that the rapture will take place at the end of the tribulation; and that the church will be on earth through it. 
    The apostle Paul says it will be at the sound of the "last trump" (I Cor. 15:52).  The Book of Revelation makes it clear the last trump sounds at the end: at the return of Christ (See Rev. 11:15).  Jesus refers to the lifting up as the "resurrection" that will happen at the "last day" (See John 5:39-40, 44, & 54).
    Many say the church will not go through the time of tribulation because Paul says we're not appointed to God's wrath (See I Thess. 5:9).  But the terms "tribulation" and "wrath" are not interchangeable.  You can have one without the other.  Tribulation refers to a time period; while wrath refers to God's judgment on the wicked.  We can live in - and through - a time of tribulation and never be subject to - or appointed to - God's wrath.
    Paul also says the church will be on earth when the Antichrist is revealed (See II Thess. 2:1-3); which takes place in the middle part fo the seven last years.  In addition, both the prophet Daniel and John the Revelator make it clear that, once the Antichrist is revealed, he will "make war" with the church for the remainder of the seven years that lead up to the return of the Lord (See Dan. 7:25 & Rev. 13:5-7).

    The early church believed in a Post-tribulation rapture; and held that belief for about 1800 years. 
    For example, Irenenaeus and Hippolytus, second and third generation disciples of John the Revelator, wrote of the rise of the Antichrist and the coming of the Lord in Post-tribulation terms.  It's only been in the last 200 years or so that anyone has suggested anything else. 
    For those truly interested in the truth, thorough research and study will show that there is no mention of a Pre-tribulation rapture in any church teaching, writing or commentary until around 1812. 
    The theory of a Pre-tribulation rapture - a so-called "new revelation" - has, for many reasons, become very popular.  In less than 200 years, most Christian churches, and most professing Christians, have accepted it as the truth.  They have wrongly placed their hope in the rapture to save them; and apparently consider some 1800 years of teaching as being in error. 

    Jesus, Paul and the early church leaders all taught the truth.  They taught that only those filled with the Spirit of God will be lifted to Jesus on the "last day" - at the sound of the "last trump."      
    So, through much tribulation, the true church, the Overcomers, will "wash their robes and make them white" (Rev. 7:15).  They will "endure unto the end" (Matt. 24:13).
    The bride of Christ will have made herself ready (See Rev. 21:2 & 9-10); and Jesus will "present to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but it (shall) be holy and without blemish" (Eph. 5:27).

It is important what you believe about the timing of the rapture of the church.  Our major concern for Christians - for the Church on earth - is that people will not be ready for what lies ahead!  If it's true - and we believe it is - that we must face the Antichrist and the Mark of the Beast, believing in a Pre-tribulation rapture is only self-deception.

Those who believe that way are in great danger of "falling away" from their faith - and not believing the Bible at all - when they see they are still here on earth when the Antichrist is revealed.  The Mark of the Beast is coming!  It is important that we know all we can about what it is - and what it is not - so that we, as God's people, can be able to refuse to take it.  That is our concern! 

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Sunday Morning Service
*An e-mail from Danny McDowell*
(Augusta, Georgia)
I attended service Sunday Morning;
and the pastor spoke much about the rapture -- pre-trib, of course.
He showed all the usual bullet points on the powerpoint display.  Then, he made this statement -- "Don't worry about all that stuff in Revelation 'cause we won't be here.  We'll be in heaven with Jesus for seven years while God Almighty pours out his wrath on unbelieving mankind."
You've heard all this stuff before, I'm sure.  I felt like I was actually sitting in the midst of Bible Prophecy actually being fulfilled before my very eyes.
The pastor is a sincere fellow; and his ministry is focused on providing for the city's poor.  His ministry has planted over 1000 churches worldwide.  He teaches the cross and most other sound doctrine.
My question is this:-- It is obvious that this man is deluded.  It is also obvious that dissauding him is not possible -- he is completely blind in this matter. 
He stands among thousands like himself.  I noticed people in the congre-gation taking notes.  I thought -- "so many people are going down this path."
Is this that "delusion" alluded to in II Thessalonians 2?  Is this man's blindness the prophesied blindness of that passage?

A Word of Caution
The people who believe in a Pre-tribulation Rapture are giving up a blessing from the Lord; and they are putting themselves in grave danger.
In the beginning of the Book of Revelaion, we're told, "Blessed is he that readeth, and they that hear the words of this prophecy, and keep those things that are written therein" (Rev. 1:3).  As you can see, this blessing goes to those who "keep" the things written in the entire Book of Revelation; not just part of it.
Don't miss the meaning of the word "keep."  It means to hold on to, to live it, to have it in your life exper-ience.  Here are two examples.
In the Old Testament, speaking of Abraham, the Lord said, "I know him that he will command his child-ren and his household after him, and they shall keep the way of the Lord, to do justice and judgment" (Gen. 18:19).
And, in the New Testament, Jesus said, "If a man love me, he will keep my words.  He that loveth  me not keepeth not my sayings" (John 14:23-24).
Many Bible teachers and preachers, along with most people who believe in a Pre-tribulation Rapture, discount most of the Book of Revelation by hanging on to the thought that the church is "out of here" by the beginning of the fourth chapter. 
But, if the church is not on the earth beyond Revelation 4:1, then no one will be blessed because no one will "keep" the things described in the rest of the Book.
And, there's a more serious problem than that.  By tossing aside everything in the Revelation from the fourth chapter on, they're also taking away from the words of the Book of Revelation; and that's a dangerous thing to do.  It's a dangerous position to be in.  The Revelation clearly states that a person will lose their soul if they take away from the words of this Book of Prophecy.
We're told that, "Whosoever was not written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire" (Rev. 20:15).  And, at the end of the Revelation, it says, "If any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and from the things that are written in this book" (Rev. 22:19).
I don't think the lake of fire will be a nice place to be.  In fact, the company you will have there isn't good at all because "the devil... was cast into the lake of fire and brim-stone, where the beast and the false prophet are, and shall be tormented day and night for ever and ever" (Rev. 20:10).
Off hand, I would say that the Pre-tribbers need badly to take another look at the Bible; and not dismiss most of a fantastic and beautiful prophecy of the power of God: the Book of Revelation, which tells how we, the Church on earth, will stand against the Devil, the Beast and his Mark.