Pastor K. Kirkland, Valdez Apostolic Church, Valdez, Alaska 

This is a discussion between a pretrib rapture believer and myself on an Apostolic forum. There were things said significant enough that I thought should be made into an article. Our purposes here are not to belittle my opponent in any way, not at all, he is very sincere and honest man. Our purposes is to simply, by way of discussion format, shine the light of endtime truth a little brighter. Especially concerning the gospel in relation to the end of the world. I have edited out anything personal, and anything impertinent to the pre vs post subject, modifying it a little here and there for out purposes here, highlighting some of my comments in bold for the reader to draw special attention to. 

[There was a prophecy conference that was taking place at my opponent's church at the time. About which I said…]

My question is this. Was any preacher of the post-trib persuasion allowed to present the case for post-trib? To be fair, they should. That is the problem with most prophecy conferences, the way I see it, most are pretrib only conferences, a post-trib preacher is usually not allowed to say anything. The Post-trib view never gets a fair shake in our ranks it seems.

The people in the pew ought to be given the opportunity to hear the post-trib side, its their life, their future and their children. On such an important issue as this, people need to be able to make their own decision between pre or post trib.

Such things as whether or not we will have to face the antichrist and the tribulation are very big issues, bigger than any organization, any local church, any pastor. The people in the pew really do want to know what is ahead of them. Whether they are allowed to say it or not, everybody deep down wants to know the real truth on this matter.


[The pretrib believer…]

I don't believe there is any Scripture for post trib so there would be no reason to have someone come in to present that. Why would God treat His bride so badly then ask them to come away with Him. Doesn't make sense and God is against spousal abuse thus He would stand by His own law.


[My response…]

Re: your comment about the bride getting all beat up in the tribulation, that's an old one pretribs have used ever since I can remember. Your speaker at the prophecy conference answered that one quite well I thought. Perhaps you didn't listen to him that close.

He said in so many words, and I am paraphrasing him here, the pretribulation rapture is based on the word of God, he said, not the argument that the church is not supposed to undergo persecution. That's a faulty argument, he said.

He then gave a long list of persecutions throughout history that the church has already had to endure. And may find themselves again in yet another persecution, considering the current political trend.

He is right, and I give him credit for saying it, he is the first pretrib prophecy teacher I have heard clarify that. Persecution has been the lot of the church all along, he said. We here in America have been quite sheltered so far in not having to undergo persecution for our faith, not so in other countries. We post-tribs have said this for years against the "beat up bride" argument of the pretribs. Your speaker would disagree with you, the church, or the bride as you put it, has been "beaten up" for two thousand years now.

Your speaker and I agree on that point, his statement that the word of God proves pretrib (and not the philosophical "beat up bride" argument of his fellow pretribs), of course, is where I disagree.


[I continue…]

As to the issue at hand, it is really not so much about the rapture, though it is an important part of this, as it is the gospel - and by that I mean one God Apostolic. What did God predestinate from before the foundation of the earth? The New Testament (NT) tells us that Jesus Christ, the church, and the gospel, are what He predestinated from the beginning.

We know that the incarnation, Christ's ministry, death, burial, resurrection, and Pentecost, followed by an intervening period between these events and Christ's second coming, were what he predestined. All of this is part of the Word, or the Logos, John 1:1. Most preach as if the incarnation alone is that plan, John 1:14. It was, but so is all these other things mentioned above. Including the second coming. Who is it that comes? "His name is called the Word of God," Rev. 19:13. The Logos. The point I'm trying to make is that the second coming is also the Logos, God's plan from the beginning.

The church and the gospel occupying that intervening period are not then some sort of parenthesis in God's plan from the foundation of the earth, where God removes the church and the gospel in a pretrib rapture, so he can turn to his true love in the tribulation, Judaism and the law. Every line of the NT says the opposite. The NT tells us that Judaism and the law were but the schoolmaster to lead us to Christ. They were transitionary. Jesus Christ, the Pentecostal church with the Acts 2:38 gospel were his plan from the beginning.

The plan of God is always progressive, never retrograde. Continually moving forward from the call of Abraham, through the law, to Jesus Christ and Pentecost. But, alas, pretribs want to get the gospel out of here, the very thing that God predestined from the beginning! What they are doing is snatching defeat from the jaws of victory. God has brought his people the length of the field, from the days of Abraham till now, only for them to opt out of the game at the ten yard line!

All this is contrary to the Logos, God's long term plan with the gospel its centerpiece. Rest assured the gospel is going to have a glorious closure. The tribulation will be the church's finest hour, her glory. The Acts 2:38 message has yet to see it's best day. When Jesus said in Matt. 24:14 that "this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations, and then shall the end come," it was in a tribulational context. That "end" really means the end, i.e. the "last day," John 6:39, 40. The day that closes out this age and begins the millennial.

The church and the gospel are not a parenthesis, God's "plan B." He only has a "plan A," one plan, it is the one he predestined from the beginning.

Apostolics dearly love the Acts 2:38 message, they do...until the endtime is brought up. Then they are quick to buy into the doctrine of pretrib, without really examining it, hastening to remove from the earth the very thing they claim to hold so highly, the Apostolic gospel. Which the people of the endtime will desperately need. Just as much then as now. 

I am trying to define who we are as a people. The gospel is what one God Apostolics are all about. We should have an endtime belief that is commensurate with our Acts 2:38 message. Pretrib is not.


[I continue…]

Perhaps I should expand a bit on the gospel being preached and “then shall the end come” in Matt. 24:14, “And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations, and then shall the end come.”

The Olivet discourse was in response to the disciples question, “Tell us, when shall these things be? And what shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world?” 24:3. What could have been in the disciples mind when they tied the second coming to the end of the world? They were, of course, Jews, what was the general belief among the Jews about the end of the world?

I brought up “the last day” in the last post, here’s another reference to it, “Martha said unto him, I know that he (Lazarus) shall rise again in the resurrection in the last day,” John 11:25. Martha merely reflected the commonly held view among the Jews, Jesus didn’t correct her here and tell her she was wrong.

One has only to read the Jews own literature to find out what Jews believe about this. They, to this day, believe the same as Martha, their terminology is typically, “this world, and the world to come.” According to Jews, this world will end in astronomic catastrophism, referred to in the prophets as the day of the Lord, purging it of its evil, followed by “the world to come.” Both being described in Matt. 24, the astronomic catastrophism, v. 29, “the sun be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken,” followed by the world to come, or Christ’s millennial rule, “when he shall sit upon the throne of his glory,” Matt. 25:31.

Jesus’ answer to the disciples question about “the end of the world,” v. 3, reflected that same anticipation. To the Jews (and the disciples) the “end” meant this world (this age) ending in a great astronomic catastrophe, affecting not only the heavens but the earth also. Which must happen to purge the creation of its evil. That is what they meant, and what Jesus meant, when they used the word “end.” And both the disciples and Jesus tied the second coming to that “end.” Thus, Jesus’ words in Matt. 24:14 become most definitive to the entire pre vs post debate - he said that the gospel would remain in this world to the very end. That end being preceded by astronomical signs in the heavens and on earth, “immediately following the tribulation of those days,” Matt. 24:29.

Throughout the Olivet discourse Jesus warned of being deceived by a premature belief concerning his coming and the end, “take heed that no man deceive you,” v. 4. The general signs (antichrist deception, wars, famines, pestilences, earthquakes) would take place “but the end is not yet,” v. 6-8. The tribulational signs would take place but the end is still not yet, the tribulation must be endured until the end, v. 9-13. And the gospel would be preached right through the tribulation, v. 14, until the end.

Throughout the discourse, Jesus rebuked the very sort of premature expectation that pretribs espouse today. He warned repeatedly not to believe in a premature “end.” He warned not to be deceived into believing that his coming would take place until that catastrophic end defined in v. 29-31, “immediately after the tribulation of those days.” That is when the elect are to be gathered together, he said, and not until then.

Paul followed Jesus when he warned of the same thing in 2 Thess. 2:3, not to be deceived by the same sort of premature expectation concerning Christ’s coming, “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,” when he gathers the church together unto him, v. 1, “the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and our gathering together unto him.” Notice, the gathering together in both Matt. 24:31, and here in 2 Thess., are a post-tribulational gathering together.


[His response…]

Actually, you misunderstand Scripture my friend. The Bible teaches that the Gospel is not taken out but simply turned back to His first love, Israel. After the Bride is taken out the children of Israel will turn back to God and He will accept them back. So, you see us pretribbers, which I do not claim to be but rather believe He is coming back very soon, do not believe what you have stated that we believe.

The main point is He will take the church out but not the gospel. The Israelites will turn to God and they will be saved.


[My response]

I am a former pretribber, and I understood pretrib doctrine quite well. Well known pretrib authorities have said on many occasions that the gospel will be taken out along with the church. They make the point, since “faith cometh by hearing, and…how can they hear without a preacher,” Rom. 10, and with all the preachers raptured, who is left to preach the gospel? But with the preachers gone in a pretrib rapture, wouldn’t the Bible still be around? …then, theoretically, Jews would be able to read it and be saved. Or so the argument goes. However, there are problems with that line of thinking.

Namely, Jews only recognize what we call the Old Testament. They despise Jesus Christ and the New Testament. There is no more obstinate people on the face of the earth when it comes to Jesus Christ. They have hated him with a passion for 2000 years now. The only ones during this long period who have gotten saved, and a pitiful few at that, have been those who have had someone work with them at length, refuting their objections, etc. Yet, with all the preachers and true believers of one God Apostolic truth removed, do you believe these people are going to turn to the New Testament and Acts 2:38? I don’t think so.

Don’t misunderstand me, I am all for Jews getting saved, but, except for a few individuals here and there, I don’t see “the receiving of them” happening until the very end of the tribulation, when the resurrection and rapture take place, “life from the dead,” Rom. 11:15, “what shall the receiving of them be, but life from the dead?” The post-tribulation resurrection and rapture.

How many resurrections are there anyway? How many second comings are there? (Answer, one). As to the main point of my post, the gospel, the Logos, the church and the gospel being God's ultimate goal from eternity past, you seem to have missed it altogether. It is a different way of thinking. I realize that, and hard for a pretribber’s mind to wrap around. I know, like I said I used to be one.

There is only one body, the church composed of Jew and Gentile, Eph. 4:4. Which has much to do with our little discussion here.


[His response…]

Remember Jesus was talking to Jews, not gentiles. This book was written to Jews and not gentiles. Thus you are right after the remnant of the Jews are saved then catastrophy happens, but be sure, is he talking about the Jews being saved, or the Church?


[My response…]

The Olivet Discourse having nothing to do with the church, but is for the Jews, is standard fare for pretribism. And it has to be that way, for if the reverse is true, and the disciples represent the church and not the Jews, coupled with the fact that there is no pretrib rapture in Matt. 24 (pretribs admit that it isn’t there), then their whole case is kaput.

There is no more scathing denunciation ever recorded than what we see in the chapter immediately preceding Jesus’ words in Matt. 24. Not even the prophets can hold a candle to it, and they really knew how to skin your hide! Jesus called them blind, hypocrites, the children of them which killed the prophets, serpents, a generation of vipers, and then closed with these terrible words, “behold your house is left unto you desolate,” 23:38. They would not have Jesus, “ye would not,” v. 37.

The disciples, on the other hand, were the ones who would have him. The Olivet discourse, thus, was spoken from the standpoint of the Jew’s REJECTION of Jesus. And, conversely, from the standpoint of the disciple’s faith in him. Which renders the pretrib interpretation of Matt. 24 exactly the opposite of the truth. And out of context – the context is chapters 23 and 24. Matt. 24 is addressed to the disciples who would be the foundation of the church. The Jews were removed from the equation in the previous chapter, “your house is left unto you desolate.” The things he said, therefore, were to the Apostolic church, the house of faith, not Judaism, the house which rejected him and were made desolate.


[I continue…]

I’d like to put more emphasis on the “end of the world” question asked by the disciples in Matt. 24:3. I mentioned the belief of the Jews, “this world, and the world to come,” but there is another reason. Jesus used the terminology of “the end of the world.” In speaking to his disciples not too long prior to the Olivet discourse, He used it in two of his parables in Matt. 13.

The two parables were the parable of the wheat and the tares, and the dragnet. In the wheat and tares, the period of time is from the sowing of the good seed until the harvest at “the end of the world,” v. 36-43. The seed to be harvested, of course, is what was originally sown, the true gospel. The harvest is the resurrection and rapture…which Jesus placed at “the end of the world,” v. 39. The true and false seed were to continue to the end of the world, at which time they are separated, the tares are burnt, and the righteous shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father (the millennial).

The dragnet, v. 47-50, says basically the same thing, the separation won’t occur until “the end of the world.” The scope of the wheat and tares parable covers a much larger span of time than the dragnet, the dragnet focusing only on the final separation itself.

Clearly, these parables of Jesus would have been fresh in the disciples minds when they asked the question in Matt. 24:3. When they asked the question, they would have understood the gospel to continue right up to the separation and the harvest at the end of the world. They would have understood that they were not to entertain any idea of a premature separation until then, 13:28, 29 – a main point of the wheat and tares parable. The parable, in other words, rebukes the idea of a premature separation of the true and false (a pretrib rapture) to occur in the kingdom before the end of the world.

From these parables, when the disciples asked the Matt. 24:3 question, they would have understood that the resurrection, or the harvest, will not take place until “the end of the world,” “the last day,” John 11:24 (when Martha believed the resurrection to take place). They would have understood the resurrection, or the harvest, to end this age and begin the next, when the righteous shall shine forth in the kingdom.

Thus, when we see the repeated mention by Jesus of “the end” in Matt. 24, it is tied to “the end of the world” in the Matt. 13 parables. That is why Jesus said the gospel is to continue until “the end” (of the world). That is why we don’t see a separation of the true and the false in Matt. 24 until v. 24:29-31. That is why there is no gathering of the elect, no harvest, in other words, until v. 31 at the last trump. And that is why there is no coming of Jesus until then – the disciples, remember, tied his coming to the “the end of the world,” v. 3.


[I continue…]

Before I get into what I am going to say here, I must deal with your assertion a bit more that the book of Matthew in general, and the 24th chapter in particular, are not for the church, they are only for the Jews. I must, because my subsequent statements are all going to be assuming Matt. 24 is for the church. Unless you are ready to dispense with the books of Mark and Luke as only for the Jews also, since both Mark and Luke contain essentially the same discourse, which I doubt you want to do, then you are going to have to admit Matthew is as much for us who are not Jews as Mark and Luke are.

While it is true that you and I haven’t even begun to deal with the assorted arguments used against post-trib. Yet, if Jesus in Matt. 24 says nothing at all about a pretribulational coming before his coming at the end of world, projecting the church with the gospel, v. 14, through the general signs, 6-8, the tribulational signs, 9-28, and the astronomical signs, v. 29, all the way to THE sign of his coming, v. 30, at the great sound of the trumpet (the last trump), v. 31, while warning against any notion of pretrib deliverance before that “end,” then it effectively renders all pretrib arguments invalid.

You heard me right, a singular second coming of Jesus Christ in v. 29-31 renders all such arguments, no matter what they are, invalid, Jesus has already set the bar in Matt. 24. There is nothing said later by Paul, or John (in the Revelation), that countermands what Jesus said. How on earth can oneness people of all people, who believe Jesus sits supreme above all, put anything above what Jesus says? What Jesus laid down in Matt. 24 is the standard for all prophecy students, it’s the high road to take. He knows more about prophecy than everybody else put together.

As to what you read in Paul and in the Revelation, all you see there is more detail about the same thing. In the case of Revelation, a lot more. Paul is not setting forth a new doctrine of an additional coming in his writings, he is simply talking about the same coming and gathering together that Jesus was in Matt. 24:29-31…howbeit with added detail.

It doesn’t take two separate comings, one seven years before the other one, it is all done in one grand end of the world event. Christ has left heaven and he is coming to do battle at Armageddon, the church is resurrected, raptured, and meets him in the air on his descent to Armageddon. Which is how they are seen in Rev. 19. The second coming references in the epistles are not speaking of two separate comings, rather the same one.

For the pretribs that do accept Matt. 24 as valid for the church, they should not read it as a mystic, reading a pretrib rapture into it somewhere, there is nothing esoteric or mystic about it. While it is true that Jesus purposely spoke cryptically at times to the multitudes and the Pharisees, this is not true in Matt. 24 speaking to his disciples! He is only hours away from leaving them, leaving them in charge of his affairs. He wants them to know, and the church to know through them, the plain unvarnished truth about the events to occur in that long intervening period before he comes again. If there was another coming in addition to the one at the end, he most assuredly would have said so in Matt. 24! But he said nothing of the kind, rather everything he said was in purposeful opposition to such a notion.


                                                K. Kirkland, Pastor - This article is Copyright © 2011, All rights reserved.

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