September 2, 2013
Pre-, mid-, or postribulational view.
Which position is correct?
The Bible is truth, it provides peace to troubled souls living in a chaotic world. Because it is a two-edged sword, it cuts through the insignificant and points to what is authentic. Because it is sheer, raw power, it has the dynamic to move the tallest mountains of unbelief. It is a compendium of truth by which we must live and is nothing short of majestic. Yet, there are many interpretations of holy writ. Great controversy continues to surround the subject of the return of Christ for His church-as far as a timetable is concerned. There are essentially three points of view.
The pretribulation position, on which this book is based, reflects the following seven Scriptural arguments. We will consider the first three this week and the remaining next week.
The promise to the church in Philadelphia (Revelation 3:10). The Book of Revelation is written chronologically. It sets forth the believer’s deliverance from wrath in a beautiful way. Revelation 1:19 states, “Write the things which thou hast seen, and the things which are, and the things which shall be.” Presently, the twentieth century finds us in Revelation, chapter 3. John sees the great escape or evacuation of believers in chapter 4, verse 1. He says, “I looked, and, behold, a door was opened in heaven: and the first voice which I heard was as it were of a trumpet talking with me; which said, Come up hither, and I will shew thee things which must be hereafter.” I believe this to be the Rapture because the twenty-four elders, picturing the saints of all ages-Old and New Testament believers-are already crowned and casting their rewards at Christ’s feet in verses 10 and 11, and believers cannot be crowned until the resurrection of the just occurs (Luke 14:14). Thus, the Rapture has already taken place, the rewards have been distributed, and all is well as the chapter ends.
Then the Tribulation Hour, depicted in Revelation 6, will continue until the Battle of Armageddon, when Christ returns as King of kings and Lord of lords (see Revelation 19:11-16). The crowning of the saints in chapter 4, plus the fact that the Church is conspicuously absent and not even mentioned after chapter 4, is certainly meaningful.
The seven churches of Revelation 2 and 3 represent the professing Church in seven successive eras from the Day of Pentecost to the time of the Lord’s return. Each church fits chronologically into its respective place in history. The sixth church, Philadelphia, escapes the Tribulation Hour, but the seventh, Laodicea, is rejected by Christ. True believers, possessing Christ, are kept from the hour of temptation that immerses our entire planet: “I also will keep thee from [not through] the hour of temptation” (Revelation 3:10). Also, “God hath not appointed us to wrath” (1 Thessalonians 5:9).
The case of the twenty-four elders (Revelation 4:1). Now let’s consider another great pretribulational truth-the twenty-four elders. After the “Come up hither” of Revelation 4:1, twenty-four elders are casting crowns at Christ’s feet in verses 10 and 11. Then a throne is set up. Around God’s throne are twenty-four thrones on which sit twenty-four elders, “clothed in white raiment; and they had on their heads crowns of gold” (Revelation 4:4). Who are the twenty-four elders? This is of extreme importance for pretribulation proponents: The twenty-four elders are the representatives of God’s people in both Testaments- the saints of all ages. The Book of Revelation unites the representative groups often. For instance, in describing the Holy City in Revelation 21:12-14, the names of the twelve tribes of Israel are posted on the gates, while the names of the twelve apostles are inscribed upon the city’s foundation. Now twelve plus twelve equals twenty-four.
In chapter 5, verses 8 through 10, these twenty-four elders do something that is spine-tingling: “[They fall] down before the Lamb [Jesus], having every one of them harps, and golden vials full of odours, which are the prayers of saints. And they [sing] a new song, saying, Thou art worthy [Christ] to take the book, and to open the seals thereof: for thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by thy blood out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation; and hast made us unto our God kings and priests: and we shall reign on the earth.”
Here we witness the praise session of the ages-Old and New Testament believers, represented by twenty-four elders, praising the Lamb of God for shedding His blood. Someone says, “Old Testament believers were not saved by the blood.” No one-but no one-gets to heaven without the shed blood of Jesus! This is why Acts 10:43 declares, “To [Jesus] give all the [Old Testament] prophets witness, that through his name whosoever believeth in him shall receive remission of sins.” Therefore, Old and New Testament believers, pictured by the twenty-four elders, are singing about the blood in Revelation 5:9 before the seal judgments begin in chapter 6 (the beginning of the Tribulation Hour). The Jews of old looked ahead to Calvary’s shed blood as they offered their animal sacrifices while the Church looks back to the Cross as the communion or memorial supper is conducted. Either way, “It is the blood that maketh an atonement for the soul” (Leviticus 17:11).
Since the elders are already crowned-and since no one can be crowned until he is either resurrected if dead, or translated if living-it is obvious that the Resurrection has occurred by the time we reach Revelation 4:10. First Thessalonians 4:16 has transpired. We conclude, then, that the scene in Revelation 4 and 5 is the direct result of the Rapture, the great escape before the judgments begin in chapter 6.
The Holy Spirit, the hinderer, is taken out of the way(2 Thessalonians 2:7-8). Another truth concerning the pre-tribulation Rapture that needs to be considered has to do with the ministry of the Holy Spirit. Jesus, before departing from earth to heaven, said, “Nevertheless I tell you the truth; It is expedient for you that I go away: for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send him unto you. And when he is come, he will reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment” (John 16:7-8). It is evident that the work of the Holy Spirit is to convict us and restrain us from sin. The Spirit of God does this through those whose bodies He indwells.
First Corinthians 6:19 states, “What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own?” Every child of God is indwelt by His Spirit: “Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his” (Romans 8:9). Spirit-indwelt believers have a purifying effect upon the world. They are the “salt of the earth” and the “light of the world” (Matthew 5:13-14). Salt prevents spoilage, and light dispels darkness. Think of the corruption and darkness that will prevail when the salt of the earth and light of the world are removed at the Rapture. No wonder Jesus said, “For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time” (Matthew 24:21).
Does the Bible teach such an evacuation of believers? Is there really a great escape before the Tribulation begins? Definitely! The second epistle to the Thessalonians proves this fact. In the first century, some posttribulationists were already sowing seeds of dissent. They said that the Church was already undergoing the trials of the Tribulation. They even produced a falsified letter, forging Paul’s name, that stated the Church was in the hour of trial. Recent posttribulational writers have almost gone as far in falsifying facts. They even print names of people who adopted their viewpoint, and the people “quoted” wonder how they arrived at such a conclusion.
Paul settled the mess by stating in 2 Thessalonians 2:1-8: “Now we beseech you, brethren, by the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and by our gathering together unto him. 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. 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; Who opposeth and exaketh 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. Remember ye not, that, when I was yet with you, I told you these things? And now ye know what withholdeth that he might be revealed in his time. For the mystery of iniquity doth already work: only he who now letteth [“hinders”] will let [“hinder”], until he be taken out of the way. And then shall that Wicked be revealed, whom the Lord shall consume with the spirit of his mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness of his coming.”
Paul, deeply perturbed by the forged letter, stated in effect, “I understand someone produced a letter, supposedly written by me, stating that the Church is presently experiencing the pangs of the Tribulation Hour. Don’t believe that lying prattle. Don’t be bothered, bewildered, or shaken over such a distortion of facts. I could not and would not write such a letter, simply because the Tribulation cannot begin until two things occur. First, there must be a falling away, and second, the man of sin must be revealed” (paraphrased).
Scholars of the past rendered the phrase “falling away” as “a catching away.” They talked about a time when the law of gravitation would be broken and men would “fall away” via the Rapture to meet the Lord in the clouds. Other scholars believed that the Greek word apostaias meant that an apostasized departure from the faith would occur. The important point to consider is that either must happen before the man of sin-the lawless one, the beast of the seventieth week-is revealed. This introduction of the Antichrist to the world will inaugurate the Tribulation Hour. This means that the “day of the Lord” or the Tribulation period cannot begin until this monstrous maniac is identified to earth’s citizens. Yet he cannot be revealed until the restraining influence of the Holy Spirit is removed: “He who now letteth [“hinders”] will let, until he be taken out of the way. And then shall that Wicked be revealed (2 Thessalonians 2:7-8).
This does not mean that the Holy Spirit must be removed from the earth. This is impossible because He, as God, is omni-present, everywhere at all times (see Psalm 139:7-11). So it means that His hindering or restraining power over sin-that keeps the Antichrist from mounting the throne- will be removed. This will happen as the Holy Spirit’s temples-believers’ bodies (see 1 Corinthians 6:19)-are taken from the earth to heaven. Then the “salt of the earth” and the “light of the world” will be removed. This immediately will produce corruption and darkness on an unprecedented scale, allowing the world dictator to come to power. This will begin the Tribulation Hour. Then the “beast” of the ages will rule during earth’s bloodiest hour, proclaiming himself as God, the Christ (2 Thessalonians 2:4). He will rule until Christ returns to earth at the conclusion of the seven years. Then “the Lord shall consume [him] with the spirit of his mouth, and shall destroy [him] with the brightness of his coming” (2 Thessalonians 2:8).
FROM THE HEART OF DR. REXELLA VAN IMPE
WHY AM I SURPRISED?
Its very hard for me to describe my feelings-perhaps a sense of awe, humility, and gratitude?-when I think about the wonderful opportunity God has given to my husband and me to reach around the world via television each week with the gospel. I definitely believe the Holy Spirit impressed Jack to find a format that so many people watch.
When we first knew we were going to have a program that would be beamed around the world, we had prayerfully planned an unusual approach that seemed really exciting. Then, about a week before we were to start production, Jack came to me and said, “Rexella, I believe we are to do a different format. I sense that we are to gather news from around the world-global headlines-and connect them to the Word of God.
With all my heart, I believe the Lord directed my husband in that decision. Today we get hundreds of pounds of mail every week from viewers who ordinarily would not watch a church-related or religious program. One day we walked into a restaurant and were recognized by a group of some twenty Jewish people. “Oh, Dr. and Rexella,” they said, “we love your program and try to tune in every week!”
In the same restaurant, we met a smaller group of Arab people who smiled and said, “Thank you for your TV program-we appreciate it so much!”
I was also stopped by the wife of a state senator who said, “I dont know if you know this, Rexella, but the first thing on the agenda of many of the senators on Monday morning is to get together over coffee and discuss your program!”
On the street in Toronto not too long ago, we were stopped by a Muslim man who said, “Many people in our community here watch your telecast often-we enjoy it so much.” I couldnt help asking, “Why are you attracted to a Christian program that presents the gospel and quotes the words of Jesus? Why would you want to watch that?”
His answer was so humbling-“We trust you!”
So many calls and letters we receive are from people like this who might never go to church or watch another religious program. Our media consultants (who also work with numerous other ministries) say that we are seeing more response to the invitation for salvation than perhaps any other program on the air today.
Many people write to say, “We couldnt make it through our week without hearing your analysis and encouragement.”
And not long ago I got a letter that brought tears to my eyes. A young girl who had decided to commit suicide was flipping through the TV channels and stopped on our program. She wrote, “Rexella, you looked straight into the camera at me and said, God cares about you…and so do I! That changed my whole thinking…and saved my life.”
Preparing for the promised days
Jack and I pray earnestly as we prepare for each program. We are keenly aware of the responsibility that is ours because we truly believe that we are living in the days just prior to the coming of the Lord. We dont like to use the phrase “last days” because its not a countdown to the world ending. Actually, its the promised days-just before Christ will come back to earth, set up His kingdom, and stop all the mayhem and madness. It will be the beginning of a thousand years of peace on the earth.
I believe we are now living in the time the Bible refers to as the “hour of temptation” that will come upon all the world and try those who live on planet earth (see Revelation 3:10). But Jesus surely is coming very soon!
When is He coming? Each week on television, we talk about the events the Bible says are signs of His coming. We share news reports about wars, rumors of wars, famines, pestilences, earthquakes, and countless other distresses and fateful events.
Often people will say, “The world has always had war and famine and trouble-all these things. Are todays events any different? Why do they have special significance now?”
The answer is found in two key verses. Jesus said, And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end (end of the age) come (Matthew 24:14). Only recently, in our generation, could it be said that the gospel has been preached in all the world, witnessing to all nations.
Secondly, the Bible doesnt say, “when you see wars, look up” or “when you see famine and pestilence, the time is near.” Look carefully at what Jesus said in Matthew 24:33-when ye shall see ALL these things, know that it is near, even at the doors (emphasis mine). All these things, all at once-simultaneously! Thats the key Jesus said to watch for, and Im telling you, that day has come!
There are many places in the Word that talk about things that will come to pass-theres a whole list of them, but Ive chosen to write about just four-perhaps the top four-that have to come together before the coming of the Lord.
So today we must do all that we can to point the lost to the Answer-not a theory, a contract, a plan-but to the Son of God, Jesus Christ, the Savior of the world. Thats what Jack and I do every week on our worldwide telecast.
Hunger and pestilence (Revelation 6:8)
The second thing that shocks me is how there can be famine, privation, and deathly need and starvation in a world where there is such abundance. Why am I surprised? Often there can be unimaginable opulence and wealth at one end of the street, and hunger, want, and terrible suffering at the other end of the same street.
The hunger, disease, and pestilence around the world hurt my heart so much. Today we have many, many billionaires all over the world-people with so much wealth that they literally cannot even count it all. There are billionaires not only in prosperous, wealthy countries, but also in poor, underdeveloped nations. Outside the gates of these billionaires estates-in the very shadow of their elegant palaces of privilege-starving people die in the darkness.
In nations ravaged by famine, with millions of starving children, cruel dictators hoard the countrys meager resources and even confiscate the humanitarian aid sent by other nations for their own personal gain. No wonder the Word reminds us that the heart (of man) is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked (Jeremiah 17:9).
Most of us are not billionaires. Perhaps we do not even have much to spare beyond our basic needs. But in the words of American writer Edward Everett Hale-
I am only one, but still I am one.
I cannot do everything, but still I can do something.
And because I cannot do everything,
I will not refuse to do something I can do.
There is always something we can do to help share the gospel with those who do not know the Lord. Even when the physical needs of nations and people are beyond our means to change, we can point them to Jesus and His words of eternal life. In many impoverished regions where television is not available to very many, we are broadcasting the message of Christs soon return on radio, hoping that somehow we can get through to some of the people.
Without natural affection (2 Timothy 3:3)
Recently on our telecast, I read a horrifying headline and story about a mother who cut off the hands of her children because they were disobedient! Can you believe it? Thats not the affection of a mothers heart. How could a parents mind get so twisted as to mistake brutal, bloody amputation and dismemberment as loving discipline? Truly we are living in “perilous times.”
Do you believe we are living in a day when people are without natural affection? We see and hear about it all the time. There are many husbands who beat and abuse their wives, even wives who also are abusive. There have also been numerous cases of children who have murdered their parents, or beat or injured a younger brother or sister.
Why am I surprised? We live in an age when sexual predators stalk children on the playgrounds of schools. Even teachers and religious leaders have been involved in horrible sexual abuse of young boys and girls. I just reported a story on our telecast recently about a man who had the names of 36,000 young boys on his computer. Investigators suspected that he had probably actually had sex with hundreds of them.
Thats not a natural heart! That is a person without natural affection. You do not prey on children-I dont care who you are or what “logic” you use to rationalize it. God intended for us to love our neighbor as ourselves-to have a love for everyone, no matter who they are. Betraying the trust and dependence of children and family is unnatural!
The Bible warns us about a whole laundry list of terrible behavioral practices that become common in the world before the end of the age comes. The Apostle Paul wrote, For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God; having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away (2 Timothy 3:2-5).
Do you recognize any of these things in our society today? Are they happening around where you live? Then pay attention. This is a biblical, prophetic sign of the promised days just prior to Christs coming!
Worldwide terrorism (Matthew 24:37; Genesis 6:11, Luke 21:9)
Worldwide terrorism! Why am I surprised? Jesus said, But as the days of Noe [Noah] were, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be (Matthew 24:37).
What was it like in Noahs day? The earth also was corrupt before God, and the earth was filled with violence (Genesis 6:11). Does that description fit the world you know? I think so.
Finally, Jesus said, But when ye shall hear of wars and (violent) commotions, be not terrified: for these things must first come to pass…nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom… (Luke 21:9, 10).
Terrorism is certainly on the upswing right now. But we must not be surprised when it strikes. Jesus said these things must come to pass-terrorism will continue at some level right up until the coming of the Lord!
This is why I am so excited, positive, and thankful about the incredible tool the Lord has given to us with our weekly telecast, Jack Van Impe Presents. We dont come on each week with global news and gloom and doom. We say, “Yes, we do see terrorism, just as Jesus foretold. But let not your heart be troubled-these things must come to pass. They precede the coming of the Lord.” Were trying to prepare people with a positive outlook, knowing that trials teach us trust in our Heavenly Father!
Yes, there have been some dark days. There may well be dark times again. But dont be afraid of “the power of darkness.” I believe darkness doesnt really have any power of its own-its only the absence of light! If you carry light with you, it always dispels darkness! Darkness has no power if you hold up the light of the world-Jesus Christ, the Son of God, our Savior and our Lord. He said, Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid (John 14:27).
Today let us allow God to comfort our souls and give us hope for tomorrow. Be ready and watching for His return. With all my heart, I believe He is coming very soon!
Dont be surprised!
CHANGED LIVES-one at a time
Dear Drs. Jack and Rexella Van Impe,
I want to thank you for your program that my husband Jim and I watch each and every week. We love the headlines that you share with the connection to Scripture. You are one of the very few places where all of the headlines are proclaimed. It is a true shame that pastors are unwilling to proclaim the truth about the news and the coming disaster for our country and the Middle East.
I also have felt compelled to write you both to thank you from the bottom of my heart. You see, in 2002, I accepted Christ when Dr. Jack gave the invitation. I was a woman who was newly divorced and addicted to meth-amphetamines. I wish that I could tell you that I was able to stop drugs immediately but that is not the truth. The drugs kept hold of me for several more years. I still proclaimed the Gospel, even in my addiction! I felt so ashamed that I was unable to stop using drugs back then. I prayed for God to either take me home or get me sober. On May 3rd, 2005, I entered drug rehab and joined AA and by the grace of God, I have been clean and sober from all mind altering substances since then. I am so grateful that I have a healthy mind and body now. To God be the glory! I am now in a loving marriage and we love the Lord and thank Him for our recovery (Jim became sober in Nov 2005).
We thank you for proclaiming the truth about how drugs and alcohol are evil spirits that are proclaimed in Revelation. I don’t understand why pastors avoid this subject. I pray for the recovery and sobriety of our country and the world.
Thank you again, for your ministry and for the truth you proclaim.
In His service,
I got compared to you Jack today by a false prophet because I was quoting scripture after scripture. One of the best compliments I could ever get. Thanks for everything you do and setting me on fire again for the Lord. I was living with a girl Feb 2013 and wasn’t married and plan as day God spoke through you to me I believe that when you said and the unmarried Christians will not go in the Rapture. Needless to say we got married about a week later. Praise God for you and your wife.
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And I looked, and behold a pale horse; and his name that set on him was Death, and Hell followed with him Revelation 6:8
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