For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine;
but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears;
2 Timothy 4:3
American Christians have become slothful, unprepared, and apathetic. We have embraced the world, and the ways thereof. The world has come to the church, and the church has welcomed it in with open arms. No one is concerned with holiness and righteous living. They have gone their own way, seeking after covetousness and other worldly lusts. The preachers preach lies, and the so-called Christians love it so. However, when a true man of God comes preaching against their sin and warns them of the judgment that shall shortly fall upon the land, they are ignored and ridiculed. The carnal Christians respond, “That will not happen to us. We will be raptured first!” The man of God then warns faithful Christians, telling them to prepare for rough times ahead. He receives a similar response, as they tell him, “We don’t need to prepare for anything! We will be raptured before any trouble comes!” Later, he teaches his Sunday School class about how modern technology is fulfilling end-times Bible prophecy. Afterward, he is confronted by his deacons, who tell him, “These things cannot be the fulfillment of Bible prophecy. We’re still here. We haven’t been raptured yet.” Has the teaching of the pre-tribulation rapture doctrine helped encourage the spiritual condition in America? Please note, this is not a rebuttal of the pretribulation timing, or a defense of the other rapture timing theories. Rather, the Americanized pre-tribulation rapture theory is spiritually dangerous.
We have been taught, especially by “prosperity” preachers, that we will have it good here on earth, then we will be raptured to heaven before anything bad happens. This is the American rapture doctrine. It is a perversion of the pre-trib rapture theory. People have been led to believe that they have nothing to worry about, so they do nothing. The way that pre-trib has been taught is encouraging the apathy of the American church.
The Next Thing?
First, it is often taught that the rapture is the next event on God’s prophetic calendar. This is taught without any qualifications, as no Scriptural evidence is ever given from the Bible. I have yet to hear anyone back up this teaching. They simply state that the rapture is next, as if it were a self-evident fact. However, there is nothing in the Bible which clearly states this. The Bible also clearly states some signs that must come before the rapture.
6. And ye shall hear of wars and rumours of wars: see that ye be not troubled: for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet.
7. For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes, in divers places.
8. All these are the beginning of sorrows.
9. Then shall they deliver you up to be afflicted, and shall kill you: and ye shall be hated of all nations for my name’s sake.
According to this passage, the beginning of sorrows, war, famine, pestilence, is followed by what? The rapture? No, it is followed by a worldwide persecution and martyrdom of Christians. This worldwide persecution is next. It hasn’t been fulfilled yet. ALL NATIONS includes the United States of America. Persecution is coming to America, it just hasn’t started yet. We will be persecuted, even to the death, in America. This will come before the rapture.
In addition, the Apostle Paul wrote the Thessalonian Christians about the timing of the rapture. Heretics had told them that the rapture had already happened, and that they had missed it. Paul gave them two signs, which MUST be fulfilled before the coming of the Lord, and our gathering together unto Him.
2 Thessalonians 2:1-4
1. Now we beseech you, brethren, by the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and by our gathering together unto him,
2. That ye be not soon shaken in mind, or be troubled, neither by spirit, nor by word, nor by letter as from us, as that the day of Christ is at hand.
3. Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition;
4. Who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, shewing himself that he is God.
We will not be gathered up by Christ until a great falling away or apostasy occurs, AND the antichrist is revealed. The apostasy is clearly happening, but the antichrist has yet to be revealed. Therefore, there are two definite things that MUST happen before the rapture, first, a worldwide persecution of believers, and second, the unveiling of the antichrist. Just from these two, we can see that the rapture is clearly NOT the next event on God’s calendar. The next event is a horrible persecution. But many are unprepared, because they think that they will be raptured beforehand.
Prosperity Gospel vs. American Persecution
The teaching that the rapture is coming next has led to the apathy of many. This teaching implies that there is nothing to worry about. This implication is expressed in words by some prosperity teachers, who claim that we will have it good here, then we will be raptured, and have it good in Heaven. According to them, we will see no trouble in this life. However, the Bible is full of admonitions to be ready for the Lord’s coming. We have been led to believe that before any trouble starts, we will be raptured out of here. This implies that Christians will never have to face troubles or persecution. If this is truly the case, why weren’t the Christians raptured out of Soviet Russia or Nazi Germany? Why weren’t the early Christians raptured out of the arenas and off the crosses of the Roman Empire? Why haven’t our brothers and sisters in Christ been raptured out of their affliction, in North Korea, China, and the Sudan?
1 Peter 4
12. Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you:
13. But rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ’s sufferings; that, when his glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy.
14. If ye be reproached for the name of Christ, happy are ye; for the spirit of glory and of God resteth upon you: on their part he is evil spoken of, but on your part he is glorified.
15. But let none of you suffer as a murderer, or as a thief, or as an evildoer, or as a busybody in other men’s matters.
16. Yet if any man suffer as a Christian, let him not be ashamed; but let him glorify God on this behalf.
Why do we, as American Christians, think that we are so good as to avoid persecution? Persecution is the norm, America is the exception. This has been one of the few places where Christians (and anyone) are free to worship according to the dictates of their conscience (individual soul liberty). No national religion or denomination is imposed upon us. But this is an exception in history. Persecution is normal, it is to be expected. The Bible is clear on this. “Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution.” (2 Tim 3:12). What then makes us think that we will not face persecution? All that will live godly will suffer persecution. If you are not living a godly life, you will miss the persecution, but you will probably miss the rapture as well. The lack of persecution in America has led to easiness, easiness has led to apathy, apathy has caused us to let down our guard, letting sin in, and sin has led to apostasy. What gives us the right to thing that we are so righteous as to avoid the persecution which has been so historically prevalent? Nay, but we are self righteous, prideful, boastful. There will be persecution in America before the rapture. True Christians are always mocked and persecuted. Very likely, the false Christians will help persecute the true ones. The liberal, progressive, apostate Christians will persecute the Bible believing Christians. However, true Christians will never persecute anyone. Therefore, the American rapture doctrine has cause many to not be prepared for the times ahead.
“This can’t be it. I’m still here!”
Another dangerous aspect associated with the American pre-trib rapture is the notion that current event cannot be fulfilled prophecy, because we are still here. This is potentially worse than the lack of preparation. The Bible warns of the Mark of the Beast, and the eternal damnation reaped by it’s recipients, including pseudo-Christians. However, those with this attitude are far more likely to accept the Mark, or at least a precursor to it. These will receive the Mark, because “It can’t possibly be the Mark of the Beast. I’m still here.” (Assuming a rapture timing other than pre-tribulation.) Even if the rapture is pre-trib, this is a very dangerous way to look at Bible prophecy, especially when souls are at stake.
In conclusion, the Lord is coming soon, but the Bible is clear that trouble is coming between now and then. The preaching and teaching of a pre-tribulation rapture without also warning of the trials and persecution between now and then has led American Christians to become unprepared, slothful, and apathetic. Carnal Christians refuse to repent, thinking the judgment of the Lord will have no effect on them. The Bible tells us to be seeking and preparing for His coming, as He will come suddenly, as a thief in the night.
1 Thessalonians 5
1. But of the times and the seasons, brethren, ye have no need that I write unto you.
2. For yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so cometh as a thief in the night.
3. 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.
4. But ye, brethren, are not in darkness, that that day should overtake you as a thief.
5. Ye are all the children of light, and the children of the day: we are not of the night, nor of darkness.
6. Therefore let us not sleep, as do others; but let us watch and be sober.
2 Peter 3:8-12
10. But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up.
11. Seeing then that all these things shall be dissolved, what manner of persons ought ye to be in all holy conversation and godliness,
12. Looking for and hasting unto the coming of the day of God, wherein the heavens being on fire shall be dissolved, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat?
Regardless to the rapture timing to which you adhere, we need to be prepared for the coming of the Lord in holiness and watchfulness. We need to repent of our sins and forsake them. We also need to be prepared for the rough times between now and then. We need to be ready for the Lord’s coming, and not slothful, sinful, and unprepared.