This Christian Journey:


The Rapture

Dr. Walter D. Huyck Jr., D.Min.

Why I support the Pretribulation Rapture of the Church.

Of all the questions I am asked as the Senior Pastor of a Baptist Church, there is one that is called to my attention more than any other. It is "why do you believe in the pretribulation rapture of the Church? What make this view the right view?" Therefore, I feel compelled to answer this question to the utmost of my ability.

"Why has the rapture of the Church come under such scrutiny lately? And why so many question concerning the timing of the rapture?" It is obvious to me that we are drawing ever closer to our last days on the face of this earth. I recall standing in front of a group of adults in a Sunday School class a number of years ago and saying, "I will be surprised if we see another Christmas!" Since then I have seen numerous Christmas Seasons. Does that make me a liar? No, because I clearly explained to the class that I could not place a date on the rapture of the Church, but I could express that I felt very strongly that we were standing on the threshold to eternity. I still believe that we are standing on the threshold to eternity, and strongly feel that Christ could call for His Church at any moment. Therefore, I have determined to be ready at any given moment.

Many are looking around our world and are recognizing the biblical indications (some refer to these as signs) that point to our last days upon this earth. Our culture has never been more ready. Wickedness abounds, sodomy is growing, hate is permeating our culture, human life is devalued to the point that people place more value on their pets than they do on each other, and technology has never been more capable of fulfilling the prophecies revealed concerning the end times. Some are so convinced by the things that we are seeing in our world today that they are asking themselves, "could we be in the midst of the tribulation period right now?" I will simply say that what we see in our world is indeed fearful, and almost compelling. Yet it is far from the Great Tribulation Period described in Scripture.

My goal is not to place a date on the rapture of the Church, for no man knows the day and hour of this event (Matt 24.36). I will simply share with you those Scriptures that convince me that the Church will be rapture prior to the tribulation period, and that this rapture has not yet occurred.

Evidences of the beginning of the Great Tribulation

One of the first events to take place at the beginning of the Tribulation Period will be the opening of the first seal and the coming forth of the White Horse and his crowned rider (Rev 6.1-2). Please keep in mind that this is NOT Jesus Christ. First, he has only one crown; Jesus will have many (Rev 19.11-16). Secondly, when Jesus returns at the Second Advent, not the rapture, to set foot upon this earth again, He will not ride alone (vs 14; Zech 14.5; 2 Thes 1.7; Jude 1.14). No, this is an impostor; someone the world will be ready to accept as their great hope and leader. As a matter of fact, the world has a lot of experience in accepting impostors for our Lord. But this impostor will have some advantages over all that have come before him.

First, if pretribulationalism is correct, he will come on the scene following the single most cataclysmic event the world has ever seen. In a time where communication is instantaneous, where people can reach out and touch their loved ones with just the push of a single button (number memory, text messages, and IM) from just about anywhere one can imagine, there will be a large populace of the world that will simply disappear. They will all have had one thing in common, they all called themselves Christians. I suppose I must add the there will be one segment of the world’s populace that will have disappeared that was not called Christian, all of the innocents; children under the age of accountability, even babies in the womb. No one will be able to deny their disappearance, and the outcry will be heard around the globe.

At that very moment this impostor will present himself to the world. He is the evident token on this earth of the beginning of the Tribulation Period. Now, some contest that the Church is already in tribulation (Acts 14.22; Romans 5.3), and indeed the Church has suffered under tribulation and persecution throughout its existence. But not the type of tribulation that will manifest itself during the Tribulation Period, for that will be a period unlike any that has come before it (Matt 24.21). Think of the most hideous individuals and leaders our world has known, and they will collectively pale in comparison to this deceiver riding upon this first White Horse.

Some things we know about this impostor include that he will come into power quickly, and will rule the world. He will eventually cause all to receive a mark that will allow them to make purchases and survive (Rev 13.16-17). He will have Theocratic rule and power over the entire world, before his demise at the end of the tribulation period. Something that no one has been able to accomplish, even in our day.

So the question arises. Is this impostor, the antichrist, alive today? All I can say is that he may be alive, but he has not even begun to execute his power and authority, yet. How can I be so sure? Simple, the Bible states that this deceiver can not be revealed until "he who now letteth" is "taken out of the way" (2 Thes 2.7-8). As a matter of fact this passage clearly declares that he is withheld from revealing himself (2 Thes 2.6). Now, who is "he who now letteth?" This can be none other than the Holy Spirit of God. The obvious revelation given in this passage is that this impostor can not be revealed until the Holy Spirit is taken out of the way, which has not occurred yet.

Lets remember a few basics concerning the Holy Spirit. We know that the Holy Spirit was given at Pentecost, and that His primary purpose is to empower the Church to fulfill God’s plan for His kingdom during the Church Age (Acts 1.8). We know that each Christian receives the Holy Spirit of God when they accept Jesus Christ as their personal Lord and Savior (Eph 1.13-14; Rev 3.20). His presence within us assures us of our salvation (1 John 5.11-13), teaches us of our Lord (John 14.16-26), and helps to mature us into Spiritual Christians (1 Cor 12.1-11). At this point I must stress a Scriptural fact that can not be denied concerning the Holy Spirit, He is God’s agent in the Church of Jesus Christ, and according to God’s Word He will "ABIDE" with the Church "FOREVER" (John 14.16; Heb 13.5). The Church of Jesus Christ will never be with out the purifying, empowering, and comforting presence of the Holy Spirit.

Therefore, if the Holy Spirit is to be taken out of the world before the antichrist can be revealed, then the Church will have to be taken out as well. There is simply no room for any other interpretation of God’s Word here. I have yet to hear a valid argument for any other course of events that will fulfill the revelation of this most simple and obvious passage of Scripture. The Midtribulationist and the Posttribulationist both simply avoid this passage all together and never address it’s content contextually.

Simply put the antichrist’s revelation is this beginning of the tribulation period. Before he can be revealed the Holy Spirit must be taken out of the way. The Church will never be without the Holy Spirit of God, and must be taken out along with the Holy Spirit in what is called the Rapture of the Church (1 Cor 15.51-58; 1 Thes 4.13-18).

There is a second item that must come before the antichrist can be revealed. There must be a falling away (2 Thes 2.3). There is no question that this falling away lines up with the course of the Church Age as revealed in the letters to the seven Churches (Rev 2.1-3.22). The Laodicean Church is a clear picture of the Apostate Church that will exist immediately before the beginning of the Tribulation Period. It is a lukewarm Church (Rev 3.15-16), it is a rich Church (vs 17), it is a blind Church (vs 18), and it is a Christless Church (vs 20). Are we in the midst of this Laodicean Church age today? There are few that would deny that the state of our current Churches very closely resembles that described in the letter to the Laodicean Church. If we are not in the Laodicean Church age today, then we are very close to it.

While the state of the Christian Church is perilous indeed. I feel that I must point out that even in this Church age there are those who have repented and are cleaving diligently to our Lord. Some may try to argue that the condition of the Church indicates that we are in the last days, and that we may be in the Tribulation Period already. While I would agree that the state of the Church may indicate that we are in the last days, those days immediately preceding the Rapture of the Church. I must contend that according to God’s Word the Tribulation Period will not begin until the impostor is revealed, and he is restrained as long as the Holy Spirit remains in this world.

How do I know that the Holy Spirit is still in this world? That is simple. When I accepted Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior, He came to abide within me. While I may not be able to open my body and reveal His presence, that does not change the fact that He is here with me, even now. The most compelling evidence of my salvation has nothing to do with my Church attendance, good works, time in prayer, or knowledge of the Bible. I know for a fact that I am saved because God’s Spirit dwells within me. "He walks with me, and talks with me, and tells me I am His own . . ." I know that I am His because I hear His voice deep within me. The Holy Spirit is still here, with the Church of Jesus Christ, maturing Christians, and convicting sinners. His presence is all the evidence I need to know that the Tribulation Period has not begun, yet.

The Nature of the Tribulation Period

I would like to take this opportunity to express a few additional thoughts concerning the Tribulation Period that will soon come upon the world. There are some misconceptions concerning what this Tribulation Period will be like. Don’t misunderstand me, the Tribulation Period will be a terrible time. The worst our world has ever seen. Nothing before it will be able to compare to it.

Yet, I think it is important for people to realize that it won’t seem so bad in the beginning. We must not forget that Satan is a deceiver. He never presents himself as a little horned man with a tail and a pitchfork in his hand. Instead he comes as your friend, a trusted confidant, an ". . .angle of light" (2 Cor 11.14). Again the Bible declares that he will come with "all power and signs and lying wonders, and with all deceivableness . . ." (2 Thes 2.9-10). The world will have just seen the biggest event of its history, the Rapture of the Church. Millions of people and children have literally disappeared, and out comes this leader with some great propositions for a wondering world.

For some reason the Church likes to portray this man as a wicked man from the very beginning. Oh, he is wicked, but he won’t necessarily appear wicked in the beginning. We must remember that he is the antichrist. He will come bringing the appearance of peace and will win the world to himself through his power and wonders. Yet, it will all be a lie, for he will win them through his deceptions. Before all is said and done he will have convinced the world that he is not only a good leader, but that he is Christ, and then that he is God. He will be the greatest con man the world has ever seen, and this should come as no surprise for he is the lord of con men.

In the end, the world will realize that it has been deceived. For at the appointed day, seven years after the beginning of the Tribulation Period (Dan 9.4-27), Jesus Christ will return with his host to reclaim his creation (Rev 19.11-16).

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