Tuesday, March 11, 2014

P1 - Comparing and contrasting the Rapture & 2nd advent of Jesus Christ

1 Thessalonians 4:16-17 "For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. 17 Then we who are alive and remain will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we shall always be with the Lord."

Revelation 19:11 "And I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse, and He who sat on it is called Faithful and True, and in righteousness He judges and wages war."

Noting the similarities between the rapture and 2nd advent of Jesus Christ
Over the passing of time I have found that noting the differences and similarities between the rapture and Christ's second advent aids greatly in understanding what the Bible has to say on whether or not the rapture will occur before, mid-way through or after the tribulation period.  As a general rule, post-tribulational believers will focus only on the similarities and virtually equate the two events, whereas mid-tribulational and moreso pre-tribulational believers (like myself) will note the similarities and also list the clear differences between the two events.   In today's post we aim to show the similarities between the rapture or catching away of the church and the second advent or coming of Jesus Christ. Below I will simply list the similarities and verse references in a convenient color coded fashion, with some brief remarks following the comparison:

Similarities between rapture & 2nd Advent

1. Both have the Lord appearing in clouds. 1 Thess 4:17 vs Matthew 24:30; Luke 21:27; Rev 11:19, 14:14

2. Both have righteous people being raised from the dead. 1 Thess 4:16-17 vs Rev 20:4

3. Both are described in the language of Jesus “coming”. John 14:3, 1 Thess 4:13 vs Matt 24:42; Lk 21:27

4. Both have an uncertainty as to when they will begin. 1 Cor 15:52, 2 Thess 2:1-3 vs Matthew 24:36; Mark 13:32

5. Both will affect the entire world. 2 Thess 2:7 vs 2 Thess 2:8

6. Both mark the end of things, the rapture will conclude the church age and 2nd advent will mark the end of the tribulation.

How a post-tribulationalist may regard the above similarities
As a former post-tribulationalist, I found the above similarities to be over-whelming proof for the assertion that the rapture would occur simultaneously with the second advent or coming of Jesus Christ. In typical logical fashion I probably would had considered the above observations as follows:

Premise#1 The rapture and 2nd advent have similar characteristics, meaning they're one event

Premise #2 The second advent will occur at the end of the tribulation period

Therefore: The rapture will occur at the end of the tribulation period.

A Pre-tribulationalist counter-response and alternative explanation of the above similarities
The problem with the above reasoning is in how I defined the word "similar".  Without going into long technicalities, the mistake I made was in saying "similar" means the "same". For instance, being from Pennsylvania, I can tell you first hand that though the Pittsburg Steelers and Philadelphia Eagles might be "similar" in that they are football teams, who are in the NFL and who are stationed in PA, nonetheless their similarities cease and the differences are far more numerous (ask any of their respective fans!) Similarity does not mean "sameness". Apples and oranges might very well be fruit, however they must be distinguished, since an apple is not an orange nor an orange an apple.

Pre-tribulationalists readily acknowledge that there are similarities between the rapture and 2nd advent, citing among other reasons that the rapture represents a "first stage" and the 2nd advent represents a "second stage" of Christ's raising of righteous saints (church-age saints in the rapture, Old Testament saints and tribulation martyrs in the 2nd advent).

The reader is invited to come back tomorrow, where will look more at the differences between these two events, and how such comparisons aid in understanding the Bible's teaching on end-time events.

More tomorrow.....

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