Q. I know you believe in a pre-trib rapture, but why would Christians living in the end times be spared from suffering when other generations of Christians have had to suffer for their faith?
Also isn’t it possible that we are living in tribulation times right now? (witness 2004 Tsunami, Kashmir earthquake, Hurricanes Katrina/Rita/Wilma) If the Church is raptured pre-tribulation then why are there still saints left to be persecuted (blood of the saints who bore testimony)during the tribulation?
And why does Thessalonians say that the righteous dead will be called up (at the 2nd coming) FOLLOWED by the living? How would the pre-trib disappearance of Christians (and only Christians) ever be explained to those remaining..especially family members who are not saved? Thank you for your wonderful service thru this website.
A. Suffering for our faith has often been a part of the Christian Life. In John 16:33 Jesus said that we’d have tribulation in our lives. Hundreds of people die every day in this world just because they believe in Jesus. But the Great Tribulation is something different. Jesus said there has never been anything like it in the history of the world, nor would there ever be again. He said that if He didn’t put an end to it not a single human would survive. (Matt. 24:21-22). And he said that He’d keep His church out of it. (Rev. 3:10)
It’s not possible that we’re living in Tribulation times now because several preceding events have yet to take place. Jesus said that we’d have wars, earthquakes, famine and pestilence all through the age and that they’d get worse as the End drew near, but that these are merely signs that the end is getting closer. (Matt. 24:6-8) Before the Great Tribulation can begin a Temple has to be built in Israel and the anti-Christ has to make his official appearance. (Matt. 24:15-21)
The believers who suffer during the Great Tribulation are those who come to faith after the Church is gone, and in fact the disappearance of the Church will convince many to become believers. We know they’re not part of the Church because their destiny in Eternity is different than the Church’s. (Rev. 7:15)
The passage you refer to in 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17 is describing the Rapture, not the 2nd coming. We know this because the church is going up to Heaven to meet the Lord where He is. At the 2nd Coming the Lord comes to Earth to meet people where they are.
World leaders will never successfully explain the disappearance of the Church to those left behind. That’s what makes it such a powerful signal to them. We all have loved ones who aren’t saved, but who know about the Rapture because we’ve told them. When we disappear, they won’t have to be told where we’ve gone.