This will be a rather unusual message – not for its content, but for its presentation. I almost worded that first statement – “This will be a very unorthodox message,” but that is not the case. “Unorthodox” means – “contrary to what is usual, traditional, or accepted.” That word is usually used in a religious context. This message will not be contrary to the stated doctrine of our church – in fact it is just the opposite.
From its inception, Calvary Independent Baptist Church has held to the Premillennial, Pretribulational position in regard to the return of Christ. Article XIV of our Statement of Faith reads: “THE LORD’S RETURN. We believe that Christ Jesus is coming back to earth again; that His return shall be personal, audible, visible, and bodily; that it shall mark the advent of the “day of the Lord” and usher in the millennium; and that He shall in that day turn the tables on Satan, take up the throne of His Father David, put down all His enemies, rule with a rod of iron, triumph over sin, and give the world an example of righteous government during His thousand years of personal reign on earth. We also believe in the imminent return of Christ for his saints. Being thus imminent, it will naturally occur prior to the time of Jacob’s trouble – the tribulation. We also believe that the many promises made to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob concerning a land of inheritance have not yet been fulfilled and that Christ will make good on these promises when He returns in glory to save Israel.” Following that statement we list twenty-two different scriptures from which those opinions are derived.
But our doctrinal position has been under attack in recent years – externally and even internally. The effects of this attack have been felt by members of our church. Both for my love of this doctrine and for the protection of our church I return to it once again. But I am going to focus on one particular point.
Here is where this message becomes a bit unusual. I hope you all have a copy of the hand-out by John Walvoord. It is entitled “50 arguments for the Pretribulational Return of Christ for His Saints.” I thought I had a booklet published by M.L. Moser which listed 100 arguments, but I couldn’t find it. So, somewhat reluctantly, I am going with Walvoord, a “Baptist” with definite Protestant tendencies. Several times in this article, he confuses “the church” with “God’s saints.” But generally speaking, I agree with what he says, with reservations on a few points. I thought about having us read this entire article as Roman Numeral #1 in my outline. But some of these points weigh less than an ounce, and on their own merit aren’t very powerful. Together. with the weight of some of the others, they create something of substance. But I’ll leave you to read through these later.
Let me point out some of Walvoord’s more weighty arguments for a Pretrib Rapture – Translation.
Historical Arguments – # 2 – The detailed development of the pretribulational truth during the past few centuries does NOT prove that the doctrine is new or novel. Its development is similar to that of other major doctrines in the history of the church.
Hermeneutical Arguments – Pretribulationism (in contrast with post-tribulationalism, amillennialism and others) is the only view that allows literal interpretation of all Old and New Testament passages on the Great Tribulation. Pretribulationism distinguishes clearly between Israel and the church and their respective programs.
The Nature of the Tribulation – # 6 – The Great Tribulation is properly interpreted by pretribulationists as a time of preparation for Israel’s restoration. None of the Old Testament passages on the Tribulation mention the church. None of the New Testament passages on the Tribulation mention the church. In contrast to midtribulationism, the pretribulational view provides an adequate explanation for the beginning of the Great Tribulation in Revelation 6.
The Nature of the Church (by which Walvoord means all of today’s saints) – # 12 – The translation of the church is never mentioned in any passage dealing with the second coming of Christ after the Tribulation. The church is not appointed to wrath. The church therefore cannot enter “the great day of their wrath.” The church will not be overtaken by the day of the Lord, which includes the Tribulation. The possibility of a believer escaping the Tribulation is mentioned in Luke 21:36. The church of Philadelphia was promised deliverance from “the hour of trial that is going to come upon the whole world to test those who live on the earth” (Rev. 3:10). It is characteristic of divine dealing to deliver believers before a divine judgment is inflicted on the world as illustrated in the deliverance of Noah, Lot, Rahab, etc. (2 Peter 2:5-9). # 20 – The Scriptures clearly teach that all, not part, of the church will be raptured at the coming of Christ for the church (ie. the saints) – (1 Cor. 15:51-52; 1 Thess. 4:17libronixdls:keylink\\u124 |ref=[en]bible:1Thess.4.17\\u124 |res=LLS:KJVlibronixdls:keylink\\u124 |ref=[en]bible:1Thess.4.17\\u124 |res=LLS:KJV).
The Doctrine of Imminency – b # 24 – The pretribulational interpretation teaches that the coming of Christ is actually imminent. This, of course, is what the article is trying to prove, so it shouldn’t be included in the arguments. Nevertheless, the exhortation to be comforted by the coming of the Lord (1 Thess. 4:18) is very significant in the pretribulational view and is especially contradicted by most posttribulationists. The exhortation to look for “the glorious appearing” of Christ to His own (Titus 2:13) loses its significance if the Tribulation must intervene first. Believers in that case should look for signs. The exhortation to purify ourselves in view of the Lord’s return has most significance if His coming is imminent (1 John 3:2-3).
The Work of the Holy Spirit – # 29 – The Holy Spirit as the restrainer of evil cannot be taken out of the world unless the (saints), which the Spirit indwells, (are) translated at the same time. The Tribulation cannot begin until this restraint is lifted
The Necessity of an Interval between the Rapture and the Second Coming – #33 – If the twenty-four elders of Revelation 4:1-5:14 are representative of the church as many expositors believe, it would necessitate the rapture and reward of the church before the Tribulation.
The Contrast between the Rapture and the Second Coming – #39 – At the time of the Rapture the saints meet Christ in the air, while at the Second Coming Christ returns to the Mount of Olives to meet the saints on earth. #41 – At the Rapture living saints are translated, while no saints are translated in connection with the second coming of Christ to the earth. At the Rapture the saints go to heaven, while at the Second Coming to the earth the saints remain in the earth without translation. At the time of the Rapture the world is unjudged and continues in sin, while at the Second Coming the world is judged and righteousness is established on the earth. The translation of the church is pictured as a deliverance before the day of wrath, while the Second Coming is followed by the deliverance of those who have believed in Christ during the Tribulation. The Rapture is described as imminent, while the Second Coming is preceded by definite signs. #48 – At the Rapture Satan is NOT bound, while at the Second Coming Satan is bound and cast into the abyss. No unfulfilled prophecy stands between the church and the Rapture, while many signs must be fulfilled before the Second Coming. No passage dealing with the resurrection of saints at the Second Coming ever mentions translation of living saints at the same time.
Without doubt we could spend several hours studying all of Walvoord’s various points. But I have my sights on only one this evening.
Today’s saints are NOT appointed to WRATH – they will NOT be upon the earth during the Tribulation.
Please notice once again points #13 and #44. “The church (the saints are) not appointed to wrath. The church (the saints) therefore cannot enter ‘the great day of their wrath’” (Revelation 6:17). “The translation of the church (the saints) is pictured as a deliverance before the day of wrath, while the Second Coming is followed by the deliverance of those who have believed in Christ during the Tribulation.”
There are two New Testament Greek words translated “wrath.” “Thumos” (thoo-mos’) is rendered “wrath” 15 times – as well as “fierceness” and “indignation” in an additional 3 scriptures. “Orge’” (or-gay’) is the other word; it is translated “wrath” – 31 times as well as “anger,” “vengeance” and “indignation’ an additional 5 places
“Thumos” is the word most often used to speak of human wrath or anger. It sometimes describes the attitude of sinners against God or against others. When the Jews first heard the testimony of Jesus, “all they in the synagogue, where filled with wrath.” In Ephesus when the people heard the Christians, “they were full of wrath and cried out, saying, Great is Diana of the Ephesians.” Most often when speaking of the “thumos” of men, it is condemned as sin. Galatians 5:19-20 – “Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these, adultery, fornication, uncleanness … hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies…” Ephesians 4:31 – “Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice.” Colossians 3:8 – “But now ye also put off all these; anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy communication…”
“Orge, “ while sometimes speaking of human anger, is most used to describe God’s wrath. Sometimes it speaks of God’s fury with man at the moment of his sin. Mark 3:5 – “And when (Christ) had looked round about on them with anger, being grieved for the hardness of their hearts, he saith unto the man, Stretch forth thine hand. And he stretched it out: and his hand was restored whole as the other.” “Orge” also describes the nature of God’s punishment for sin. I Thessalonians 2:16 – “Forbidding us to speak to the Gentiles that they might be saved, to fill up their sins alway: for the wrath is come upon them to the uttermost.” It also expresses the sinner’s current condition in the sight of God. John 3:36 – “He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him.” Romans 5:9 – “Being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through (Christ).” Romans 9:22 – “What if God, willing to shew his wrath, and to make his power known, endured with much longsuffering the vessels of wrath fitted to destruction.”
Sinners are under God’s wrath, even when it hasn’t yet physically fallen on them. John 3:36 – “He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him.” But there are several scriptures which speak of it as yet to come. Matthew 3:7 – “When he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees come to his baptism, he said unto them, O generation of vipers, who hath warned you to flee from the wrath to come?” Luke 3:7 – “Then said he to the multitude that came forth to be baptized of him, O generation of vipers, who hath warned you to flee from the wrath to come?” I Thessalonians 1:10 – “And to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead, even Jesus, which delivered us from the wrath to come.” What KIND of divine wrath is yet to come? Is that talking about Hell or the Lake of Fire?
Both “orge” and “thumos” are used to describe events in, or the period of time known as “The Tribulation” – over and over again. Revelation 6:16 – “And (people cried) to the mountains and rocks, Fall on us, and hide us from the face of him that sitteth on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb. For the great day of his wrath is come; and who shall be able to stand?” Revelation 14:8 – “And there followed another angel, saying, Babylon is fallen, is fallen, that great city, because she made all nations drink of the wine of the wrath of her fornication…. The same shall drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is poured out without mixture into the cup of his indignation; and he shall be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels, and in the presence of the Lamb.” Revelation 14:19 – “And the angel thrust in his sickle into the earth, and gathered the vine of the earth, and cast it into the great winepress of the wrath of God.” Revelation 15:1 – “And I saw another sign in heaven, great and marvellous, seven angels having the seven last plagues; for in them is filled up the wrath of God.” Revelation 15:7 – “And one of the four beasts gave unto the seven angels seven golden vials full of the wrath of God, who liveth for ever and ever.” Revelation 16:1 – “And I heard a great voice out of the temple saying to the seven angels, Go your ways, and pour out the vials of the wrath of God upon the earth.” Revelation 16:19 – “And the great city was divided into three parts, and the cities of the nations fell: and great Babylon came in remembrance before God, to give unto her the cup of the wine of the fierceness of (God’s) wrath.” Revelation 19:15 – “And out of (Christ, the Lamb’s) mouth goeth a sharp sword, that with it he should smite the nations: and he shall rule them with a rod of iron: and he treadeth the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God.”
A dozen times in Revelation, but also in the Gospels the word “wrath” is directly tied to the Tribulation. Christ warned Israel, “But woe unto them that are with child, and to them that give suck, in those days! for there shall be great distress in the land, and wrath upon this people.” And many of those people should have easily made the connection between “wrath” and the judgment of Israel, because it was an Old Testament revelation. Zephaniah 1 – “The word of the LORD which came unto Zephaniah the son of Cushi… I will utterly consume all things from off the land, saith the LORD…. I will also stretch out mine hand upon Judah, and upon all the inhabitants of Jerusalem… And them that are turned back from the LORD; and those that have not sought the LORD, nor enquired for him… Hold thy peace at the presence of the Lord GOD: for the day of the LORD is at hand: for the LORD hath prepared a sacrifice, he hath bid his guests. And it shall come to pass in the day of the LORD’S sacrifice, that I will punish the princes, and the king’s children … And it shall come to pass in that day, saith the LORD, that there shall be the noise of a cry from the fish gate, and an howling from the second, and a great crashing from the hills… And it shall come to pass at that time, that I will search Jerusalem with candles, and punish the men that are settled on their lees: that say in their heart, The LORD will not do good, neither will he do evil. The great day of the LORD is near, it is near, and hasteth greatly, even the voice of the day of the LORD: the mighty man shall cry there bitterly. That day is a day of wrath, a day of trouble and distress, a day of wasteness and desolation, a day of darkness and gloominess, a day of clouds and thick darkness… And I will bring distress upon men, that they shall walk like blind men, because they have sinned against the LORD: and their blood shall be poured out as dust, and their flesh as the dung. Neither their silver nor their gold shall be able to deliver them in the day of the LORD’S wrath; but the whole land shall be devoured by the fire of his jealousy: for he shall make even a speedy riddance of all them that dwell in the land.”
There are at least two scriptures which tell today’s saints that they shall NOT have to endure God’s wrath.
I Thessalonians 5:9 – “God hath NOT appointed US to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ.” Taken alone this verse could say that Christians have been delivered from Hell and Lake of Fire. Salvation in Christ gives us hope for the glories and peace of God in Heaven. But what is the context of that statement? To what KIND of wrath has God not appointed us?
Please turn to I Thessalonians 5 – “But of the times and the seasons, brethren, ye have no need that I write unto you. 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: we are not of the night, nor of darkness. Therefore let us not sleep, as do others; but let us watch and be sober. For they that sleep sleep in the night; and they that be drunken are drunken in the night. But let us, who are of the day, be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love; and for an helmet, the hope of salvation. God hath not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ.” The context of Paul’s statement describes preparations for the “Day of the Lord” – the Tribulation.
Now go back to I Thessalonians 1:6-10. “Ye became followers of us, and of the Lord, having received the word in much affliction, with joy of the Holy Ghost: So that ye were ensamples to all that believe in Macedonia and Achaia. For from you sounded out the word of the Lord not only in Macedonia and Achaia, but also in every place your faith to God-ward is spread abroad; so that we need not to speak any thing. For they themselves shew of us what manner of entering in we had unto you, and how ye turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God; And to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead, even Jesus, which delivered us from the wrath to come.”
Keep in mind John 3:36 – “He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him.” He that believeth on the Son is no longer under the wrath of God – Hell is not a concern to him. And his awaiting for the Son from Heaven, has nothing to do with the wrath to come. I believe that just as Paul was referring to the Tribulation in chapter 5, he is also doing it in chapter 1. This is the return of Christ to deliver His saints from the wrath of God poured out upon Israel – and the world – during the Tribulation.
God’s saints, those alive just prior to the Tribulation will be delivered from God’s wrath.
I believe that the saints of that day will be miraculously delivered before God’s judgment falls. Those people will be like Noah and his family, Lot and his daughters , Rahab and her family – delivered. That deliverance will effected be through their translation – sometimes called “the rapture.”
Not only does the Bible teach the imminent return of Christ, but the world seems to be ripe for judgment. And so I conclude that you and I will be a part of that translated multitude. Brethren, as the Bible says, “the Lord draweth nigh.” We should be prepared for and expect our translation, very soon. “And every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as he is pure.”