Dispensational Thought #5 (part 3) : The Rapture of the church is not mentioned by name in the Bible, so why do many people believe in it?
Please read parts 1 & 2 prior to this piece so that you will be up to speed on what we have discussed thus far. Without further ado, let’s begin.
Let’s dwell a bit upon the Church and her whereabouts during the tribulation. First off, yes, I believe there will be a literal 7-year tribulation period. Why else would God communicate all of the information to John if He were not serious about it? To spiritualize the book of the Revelation to the point of rendering it meaningless is a grave and dangerous error. And another thing, the events of the tribulation period have not occurred before upon this earth. Please do not get caught up in spiritual mystery novels & religious science fiction. The Bible is to be taken literally unless it is obviously speaking in hyperbole or metaphor.
God mentions protecting the Church (Philadelphia) from the ‘hour of trial’ that will come upon the entire earth. Many believe the letters to the churches represent not only literal churches that actually existed but also types of ages that the Church will go through. Some may argue against this tack but, even if this method is not the correct way to deal with the material concerning the letters to the churches, there remains throughout the Bible adequate reason to support the rapture of God’s Church prior to the tribulation period.
So where is the Church? In chapter4, John gets translated into Heaven to watch the events of the end unfold. Some have claimed that this represents the rapture but it does not. The act of John getting translated into Heaven was exactly that. He gets taken into Heaven to see the events that will unfold before him. Last time, I mentioned that when he gets there, he sees a great multitude dressed in white robes and is told that these were taken out of great tribulation (Rev 7). Similar Greek wording for ‘taken out’ is used for how these people get to Heaven as compared to the wording for the church of Philadelphia’s being kept from the hour of great trial back in chapter 3. The people in chapter 7 are most likely people who are saved and martyred during the tribulation period. These people made a transition from living on earth to living in Heaven. The similar wording with chapter 3 would suggest that the chapter 3 people made a transition as well.
Notice in chapters 4 & 5 when John goes into Heaven, he sees 24 elders worshipping God. When the Lamb of God (Jesus) appears to open the title deed to God’s Creation, the elders worship Him and sing a song of redemption to Him. Notice in chapter 5 how they sing that Jesus has redeemed them with His blood. Exactly whom has Jesus redeemed with His blood. ONLY THOSE WHO ARE SAVED a.k.a. the Church. No one can sing a song of personal redemption except those who are personally redeemed. This represents the Church being in Heaven at the time that John arrives to witness the events of the end.
This group cannot be redeemed Israel since the nation is not yet redeemed. The tribulation saints are yet to be mentioned (chapter 7). Since there is no mention of the Church anywhere else in Revelation during the tribulation period, the 24 elders must represent the complete body of the redeemed that were taken into Heaven prior to the beginning of the tribulation period.
So, this area of scripture tells us about the Church’s location during the tribulation. Chapter 7 talks about the sealing of 144,000 of the tribes of the children of Israel in order for them to be able to do God’s work during the tribulation period. Next, the tribulation martyrs are mentioned. So, if the church is still on earth, where is she mentioned? Nowhere. There is no reason at all to believe that the Church will ride out the tribulation on earth. The church will be otherwise occupied singing redemption’s song before the throne of God!
The entire Bible is a book about redemption. God has redeemed those who are saved via grace through faith in Christ. To think that God would allow His Church, the body of Christ, to ride out the tribulation period on earth with no mention of any type of protection mechanism or discussion of her duties or transition into Heaven is absurd. I am sorry but that is the truth. Please do not get caught up into fantasy stories about how this group is really another group and this time is really another time and this filter has to be used here and that filter has to be used there and so on… Just read the Bible and understand it as it was written! Praise God for his word!