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THE PRE-WRATH RAPTURE OF THE CHURCH – PART II

by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.,
Pastor Emeritus

A sermon preached at the Baptist Tabernacle of Los Angeles
Lord’s Day Afternoon, July 19, 2020


Hymn Sung Before the Sermon: “Am I a Soldier of the Cross?” (by Dr. Isaac Watts, 1674-1748).

Last Sunday I gave an overview of the “pre-wrath position” of Marvin J. Rosenthal. Today I will review the first part of what I wrote, and then go into detail regarding the application of it. Turn in the Bible to I Timothy 4:1 (p. 1276). Stand as I read it.

“Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing [deceiving] spirits, and doctrines of devils” (I Timothy 4:1; p. 1276 Scofield).

You may be seated. The Holy Spirit speaks “expressly [clearly].” In the latter times [the “last days”] some will depart from the faith [the faith of the Scriptures], giving heed to demonic spirits and doctrines of demons [devils].

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In other words, in the “latter times” many will be led astray by deceiving spirits and “doctrines of devils [demons].” This is made clear by Christ in His warnings against deception in the last days before He returns (see Matthew 24:4; 24:24). In II Timothy 4:4, the Scripture says that “they shall turn away their ears from the truth” (p. 1281). Thus, many Christians in the last days will have “a form of godliness, but deny the power thereof” (II Timothy 3:5; p. 1281).

The “rapture” is clearly explained in two New Testament passages – I Thessalonians 4:16-17 and I Corinthians 15:51-57. These two passages reveal that the living and the dead Christians will be resurrected “to meet the Lord in the air.”

But neither of these passages tell us when the “Rapture” will come. This has led to various theories. Some say that the rapture could come at any moment. Others say it would come before the seven-year Tribulation. Yet others say it will come in the middle of the Tribulation. Still others say the rapture will come at the end of the Tribulation.

The reason for this confusion is because the Bible itself does not tell us explicitly when the rapture will come. Therefore all the above possibilities have been taught at one time or the other by scholars. The theory that most evangelicals hold is that the rapture will come right before the seven-year Tribulation. But this view is very recent. It was first taught by a charismatic woman named Margaret MacDonald in 1828. It seems that John Nelson Darby heard of her teaching and incorporated it in his teachings on Bible prophecy in 1830. (See Henry Hudson, “A Second Look at the Second Coming,” Massillon, OH, Calvary Chapel, 3).

The pre-tribulation rapture became the main view of evangelicals with its inclusion in the Scofield Reference Bible in 1909, and in the Scofield Study Bible of 1917.

Here is a list of famous Christians who did not believe in the pre-tribulation rapture: John Huss, John Calvin, George Whitefield, Jonathan Edwards, John Wesley, Charles Wesley, John Bunyan, John Wycliffe, C. H. Spurgeon, A. B. Simpson, George Mueller, Dr. John Sung, Dr. Timothy Lin, and many others, including the vast majority of pastors under Communism in China.

I. First, here is why I gave up the pre-tribulation rapture.

I saw that this view did not help those who believed it. Here I quote Dr. A. W. Tozer to show that mental belief in the rapture, even the pre-wrath rapture, will never help you. Dr. Tozer said,

No man is better for knowing that God in the beginning created the heaven and the earth. The devil knows that, and so did Judas. No man is better for knowing that God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son to die for our redemption. In Hell there are millions who know that. Theological truth is useless until it is obeyed (“Exposition Must Have Application”).

This is something that Kreighton does not know. Week after week he tells rebellious sinners that God loves them and will save them whether they obey Him or not. It is half true – but not the whole truth. The whole truth is that God will not save anyone who lives in rebellion. Dr. Tozer said, “Faith will justify the sinner, but it will never justify the sinner and his sin” (“Man: The Dwelling Place of God,” p. 90).

So, the pre-wrath rapture can be believed, along with other true doctrines, but it will not save you. No doctrine (true or false) will save you if you do not repent (turn away from your rebellion) and experience the pardon Christ gives by His Blood atonement on the Cross. Jesus said, “Except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish” (Luke 13:5; p. 1094).

II. Second, I believe that the pre-tribulation rapture, as it is taught in most evangelical churches, is a false doctrine, Satanic in origin.

My long-time pastor, Dr. Timothy Lin, did not believe in the pre-tribulation rapture. Here is what I said about this great man in my autobiography,

I had the privilege of hearing him [preach] every Sunday night for about ten years. He was absolutely great, the most effective pastor I have ever known…He was outstanding in every way. I can only say that I learned to preach under the ministry of Dr. Timothy Lin (Against All Fears, p. 66).

Last Sunday I asked a leader in our church, “Do you think I was bitter against Dr. Lin?” In front of the whole church this man said, “I’m not sure.”

The Bible says, “A double minded man is unstable in all his ways” (James 1:8; p. 1306). Should this man be a leader in our new Chinese church? NO, HE SHOULD NOT! The Bible says that God hates, “He that soweth discord among brethren” (Proverbs 6:19; p. 676). This man will never again be a “leader” in our new church. The Bible says, “He that uttereth a slander, is a fool” (Proverbs 10:18; p. 679). The Scofield note says, “A ‘fool’ in Scripture is never a mentally deficient person, but one [who is] arrogant and self-sufficient” (Scofield note #1, page 678). “He that keepeth his mouth keepeth his life: but he that openeth wide his lips shall have destruction” (Proverbs 13:3; p. 681). No wonder this man’s sons have no respect for him. And neither do I after that outburst. “A fool's mouth is his destruction, and his lips are the snare of his soul” (Proverbs 18:7; p. 685). Chuck Missler said, “A carnal Christian persists in doing things his own way, he will never grow to full maturity…they are not concerned about being prepared or ready or qualified to inherit the kingdom” (Chuck Missler, The Kingdom, Power and Glory – The Overcomer’s Handbook, p. 195). It was a slanderous lie to say that he “was not sure” whether I was bitter at Dr. Lin! I was actually asked to speak at Dr. Lin’s funeral. “He was outstanding in every way.

Please turn to Revelation 12:12b (p. 1341).

“Woe to the inhabiters of the earth and of the sea! for the devil is come down unto you, having great wrath, because he knoweth that he hath but a short time” (Revelation 12:12b).

The Devil knows Bible prophecy better than we do. He knows his evil reign is about over. He knows he “hath but a short time.” That’s why the Devil has taught such a rush of demonic doctrine in the last days!

Thank God that He led Marvin J. Rosenthal to write “The Pre-Wrath Rapture of the Church.” This man went through hell on earth to write that book. I thank God he did. The back jacket of his book says,

For thirty years a confirmed pretribulationist, he now believes that the Church will have to endure the persecution of the Antichrist: “God never promised His children immunity from the trials of this godless world or the assault of the Antichrist. He did promise, ‘greater is he [the Holy Spirit] that is in you, than he that is in the world’ (I John 4:4).” In view of the fact that Christians will not escape all of the oppression of the “Tribulation” period, Rosenthal urges godly living in light of a clear understanding of the last days so that we will be prepared for Satan’s intense opposition.
Rosenthal does, however, believe that the Church will escape the wrath of God, which will be poured out beginning with the opening of Revelation’s seventh seal sometime during the second half of the “Tribulation” period. “For God did not appoint us to wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ” (I Thess. 5:9).
In a readable, informative style, complete with twenty-five charts, Rosenthal takes a fresh look at the biblical prophecies concerning end-times events and helps us understand what impact they should have on our daily Christian lives.

Order a copy of Marvin Rosenthal’s book, “The Pre-Wrath Rapture of the Church” from Amazon.com. Read it all the way through. Give a copy to a pastor to read also.

The pretribulation rapture is, I believe, Satanic in origin. It is a false doctrine!

If Rosenthal is right, “The church will enter [the Tribulation] period unprepared, spiritually naked, vulnerable, and ripe for the Antichrist’s deception. The psychological implications will be disastrous” (p. 281). I believe nearly all of those who split our church will take the “mark of the beast” and perish!

Please turn to Revelation 12:11 (p. 1341).

“And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony; and they loved not their lives unto the death” (Revelation 12:11).

I was previously confused by the Scofield note on Revelation 4:1 which says, “The word ‘church’ does not again occur in the Revelation till all is fulfilled” (Revelation 4:1). I was confused because it was clear that there were obviously great Christians after that, in the Tribulation. There will be the 144,000 Jewish believers (Revelation 7:2-8; pp. 1336-1337). There will also be the great multitude of Gentiles that will be saved during the great Tribulation (Revelation 7:9-17; p. 1337). “These are they which came out of [the] great tribulation, and have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb” (Revelation 7:14; p. 1337). Also the Scofield note says, “The great tribulation will be…a period of salvation” (note on Revelation 7:14). That is obviously the Church in the Tribulation. The word “church” is not mentioned, but the people of the universal church will be here.

The “church” is therefore present throughout most of the great Tribulation. They will overcome Satan “by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony; and they loved not their lives unto the death” (Revelation 12:11; p. 1341).

This question was resolved for me by Marvin J. Rosenthal’s book, “The Pre-Wrath Rapture of the Church” (Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1990). I hope you will read the whole book before you criticize it. The Bible says, “He that answereth a matter before he heareth it, it is folly and shame unto him” (Proverbs 18:13; p. 685).

Now turn to Revelation chapter 2 (p. 1332). Here Christ begins His teaching on the seven churches. The Scofield Bible gives a false view of the seven churches. It says they are “the spiritual history of the church…in precise order.” I believed that for a long time. There were many churches in Asia Minor, which is modern day Turkey. The seven churches in Revelation 2 and 3 were chosen from among many churches for two reasons – (1) The number 7 is the number of completion; (2) Those churches show the strengths and weaknesses of Christendom during the Tribulation. Only this view gives justification for the inclusion of letters to seven first century churches in a book that is wholly prophetic.

There is a promise given to overcomers that is common to all seven churches. Those who are overcomers will be rewarded. Look at Revelation 2:7 (p. 1332).

Chuck Missler said, “What we do after we have been born again everlastingly affects our roles…in the future reign of Christ…only the overcomers…will inherit levels of responsibility in that kingdom…our places of responsibility in the future kingdom will be won or lost according to our faithfulness, perseverance, and obedience in this life. Our life here is simply the training ground for the next life there” (The Overcomer’s Handbook). That is exactly what Dr. Timothy Lin taught in his book (The Kingdom of God).

(1) To the church at Ephesus Christ said,

He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the tree of life, which is in the midst of the paradise of God” (Revelation 2:7; p. 1332).

Notice that this promise is not to everybody in that church. The promise is only given to the individuals in the church that overcome – He, him, him, not to all but “to him that overcometh.”

To overcome is to triumph over Satan, and the Antichrist, to triumph over difficulties. They are willing to die for Christ, if being an overcomer requires it. As Dr. Timothy Lin pointed out – the overcomers are the personnel of the coming Kingdom. The Bible says, “If we suffer, we shall also reign with him: if we deny him, he also will deny us” (II Timothy 2:12; p. 1280).

(2) To the church at Smyrna Christ said,

“He that overcometh shall not be hurt of the second death” (Revelation 2:11; p. 1332).

(3) To the church at Pergamum Christ said,

“To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the hidden manna, and will give him a white stone” (Revelation 2:17; p. 1333).

The white stone means that the overcomer will experience acquittal before God when Christ returns.

(4) To the church at Thyatira Christ said,

“And he that overcometh, and keepeth my works unto the end, to him will I give power over the nations” (Revelation 2:26; p. 1333).

(5) To the church at Sardis Christ said,

“He that overcometh, the same shall be clothed in white raiment; and I will not blot out his name out of the book of life, but I will confess his name before my Father, and before his angels” (Revelation 3:5; p. 1333).

(6) To the church at Philadelphia Christ said,

“Him that overcometh will I make a pillar in the temple of my God, and he shall go no more out: and I will write upon him the name of my God, and the name of the city of my God, which is new Jerusalem, which cometh down out of heaven from my God: and I will write upon him my new name” (Revelation 3:12; p. 1334).

(7) To the church at Laodicea Christ said,

“To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne” (Revelation 3:21; p. 1334).

The teaching that the rapture occurs at the beginning of the seven-year Tribulation is utterly false. Rosenthal says, “The reason for the omission of any pretribulation rapture texts is clear – There are none… There is simply no explicit exegetical evidence for pretribulation rapturism” (Rosenthal, p. 280). If the church must go through the Tribulation, the false teaching of a rapture that supposedly takes selfish American evangelicals up to Heaven before there is any tribulation is, in my judgment, Satanic in origin. Yet many preach this false doctrine every week in their churches! Why should selfish Americans be raptured while better Christians than them continue to be persecuted in the “Third World”? I have never heard the answer to that question. Have you?

We must prepare now to reign with Christ as overcomers in His coming Kingdom. “If we suffer, we shall also reign with him: if we deny him, he also will deny us” (II Timothy 2:12; p. 1280).

Stand and sing our hymn, “Am I a Soldier of the Cross?”

Am I a soldier of the cross, A follower of the Lamb;
And shall I fear to own His cause, Or blush to speak His name?

Must I be carried to the skies On flowery beds of ease,
While others fought to win the prize, And sailed through bloody seas?

Are there no foes for me to face? Must I not stem the flood?
Is this vile world a friend to grace, To help me on to God?

Sure I must fight, if I would reign; Increase my courage, Lord!
I’ll bear the toil, endure the pain, Supported by Thy Word.
     (“Am I a Soldier of the Cross?” by Dr. Isaac Watts [Dr. Watts did not believe
          in the pre-Tribulation rapture!], 1674-1748).